Roque on Red Cross false positive tests issue: Duterte just wants accurate COVID testing

President Duterte simply wants coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing to be accurate.

President Rodrigo Duterte (Malacañang photo)

This was Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque's take Tuesday, Sept. 21 regarding President Duterte's order for the Department of Health (DOH) to probe the supposed numerous false positive COVID-19 test results coming from the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

"Kaya nga pinapaimbestigahan natin para (With this investigation) we will make sure that the tests are in fact accurate. Now we know they are not perfect, but we are taking steps to make them more accurate," Roque said during a virtual press conference.

On late Monday night, President Duterte said he would have the DOH investigate the false positives coming from PRC, which is chaired by Senator Richard Gordon. Duterte and Gordon have been trading barbs the past few weeks over issues of corruption in government at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A false positive is basically a COVID-19 test result that initially turned out positive. But when the person involved pursued a re-test from another facility, the result was negative.

Duterte said in his "Talk to the People" public briefing that persons given these false positive tests may have been endangered by being made to go to a medical facility when in fact, they weren't infected in the first place.

Asked if Duterte's criticism on PRC's testing equated to the President questioning the integrity of COVID-19 testing data reporting, Roque answered in the negative.

"I think that is a wrong conclusion. I think the President wants our testing to be more accurate," he said.

At any rate, the spokesperson said that Duterte's order could lead to accuracy exercises on the COVID-19 testing of other facilities. This includes the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City.

"I think that is the offshoot of the President’s order that RITM--dahil medyo tagal nang ginagamit ang mga makinang iyan (because the machines being used there are old)--must really go out of its way and test the accuracy maski at a random basis iyong mga makinang ginagamit natin ngayon (even on an random basis as far as those machines are concerned)."

As for the false positives at PRC that Duterte reported in his public address, Roque said: "Hindi ko lang alam kung kailan talaga ito nangyari (I don't know when it really happened). Pero (But) I think it happened fairly recent, at kaya nga po ngayon nagkakaroon ng imbestigasyon (and for that reason we are having the investigation)."