Jul 3, 2020 @ 16:56

Palace downplays SC petition for COVID-19 mass testing

Malacañang on Friday downplayed a petition filed before the Supreme Court seeking to compel the national government to fast-track the free mass testing for COVID-19.

“Ibabasura po iyan ng Korte Suprema, kasi sa mula’t-mula po mayroon po talaga tayong programa na targeted testing, ” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

“Ngayon po, isasama na rin natin ang mga asymptomatic, iyong mga manggagawa, iyong iba pang mga frontliners kagaya ng media, subject naman po to the final guidelines to be issued by the Department of Health and the National Task Force,” he continued.

On Friday morning, former Social Welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo along with several other petitioners from different sectors of the society petitioned the SC to compel the government to prioritize mass testing for COVID-19 in the country.

In a petition, the group, which was represented by the National Union of People’s Lawyers, likewise urged the high bench to require the government to release timely and accurate information about the coronavirus infection.

“The omission of proactive and efficient mass testing amid the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that a systemic and normalized violation of the right to health engenders the impairment of other human rights and liberties, such as the rights to travel, livelihood or work, education, and access to justice,” the petitioners said.

Aside from Taguiwalo, the petitioners included doctors, scientists, students overseas Filipino workers, women’s and labor groups, among others.

“Without accurate and timely information on the extent of community transmission of COVID-19, the government lacks proper grounds for any policy pronouncement. These irregularities lessen the confidence of the public in the ability of the DOH (and government in general) to deal with the pandemic with transparency and integrity,” they continued.

Named respondents were Health Secretary Francisco Duque III
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año
Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade
Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado
Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez, also chief impelementer of the National Action Plan against COVID-19
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

As of this writing, the country has one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in the Southeast Asian region, with 38,805 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 1,274 have died while 10,673 have recovered.#

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