The Gist


While many Filipinos remain untested for COVID-19, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque admitted on live television that he was able to do it 35 times.

/ 18 March 2021

For an individual residing in the Philippines to get tested for COVID-19, he or she must be ready to pull out P4,000 to P13,000 from  his or her pocket. For a lot of Filipinos, these bills are far from small, most especially if they could use the money to feed their families for a week or so, instead. 

In a televised public briefing on Monday, March 15, 2021, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque admitted that he was able to get tested 35 times for COVID-19, a privilege that not a lot of Filipinos have. 

“As of 11:29 this morning, I received my result  and it showed that I tested positive for COVID,” said Roque. “It came as a surprise and as a shock that after about 35 tests, the result came positive. But for me, it is almost a routine that every Sunday afternoon preparatory to the Monday evening meeting with the President [Rodrigo Duterte], we undergo RT-PCR testing.”

Roque clarified that he did not expose himself to other people after he contracted the disease. “I do not have much exposure because I have been to the office. My routine is that I am alone in my office reading my briefing papers and reading all the papers, so  I almost did not come in contact with anyone in the office.”

He also said that he remains asymptomatic and will be alone in his office in the meantime. “Right now, I’m alone in my office, that is why I am having problems with connectivity natin because no one is assisting me inside the room.”

People on social media had varying reactions towards Roque’s announcement. “No budget for mass testing yet Harry Roque was tested 35 times to confirm the positive result? make it make sense,” one netizen said.

“That’s a lot of spending! Considering that a single negative test is valid for 14 days! In one year since this pandemic, the average swab is 26. So you were swabbed excessively,” another netizen wrote.


One social media user questioned the money spent by Roque for all the tests:


Meanwhile, one netizen echoed the plight of many untested frontliners: 


It’s been one year since the Philippines was placed under quarantine, and the government’s action plan still seems to be in shambles. While most countries are busy having their citizens vaccinated, we are still stuck with the problem of spiking COVID-19 cases, while Filipinos are pulling in extra money just to get tested. Or worse, we remain untested to save money, and unknowingly spread the virus.