PRESIDENTIAL Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino debunked Thursday, June 18, 2020, allegations of corruption in the purchase of Covid-19 test kits for Cebu.
Dino, in an interview with SunStar Cebu, denied his office had anything to do with the purchase of test kits by the Cebu City Government.
The rapid test kits, purchased in May under the Project Balik Buhay (PBB) Program, were used in the different barangays to determine possible cases of coronavirus disease.
"As a businessman, reputation and credibility are very important. I value that. Never gyud ta anang corruption," Dino said.
Dino was responding to several allegations on social media implying that he had gained money from the purchase of the test kits used in the tri-cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.
Some of the controversial posts came from former Provincial Capitol consultant Byron Garcia, brother of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.
“Aber, let’s see your math kuno beh. Based on the results of the test conducted by the triumverate mayors on this so-called PBB project. Next time, si Cebuano businessman turned Presidential Assistant Mike Dino nasad kuno ang magpa interview para (should have himself interviewed so) let’s see the scattered,” Garcia said in an FB post on May 18, 2020.
“Basin nakaila tingali si Mike sa name sa testing kits ug tag pila ni cya. Kinsa tuod nagpalit ani or ni perma sa P.O. (Maybe Mike would know the name of the testing kits and how much they cost. Who bought them and who signed the P.O.),” Garcia added.
For his part, Dino said the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) only provides support to local government units and does not get involved in procurement dealings.
Dino said the Cebu City Government purchased the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines (FDA)-approved rapid antibody test kits upon the recommendation of the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH 7).
Dino said the test kits bought by the Cebu City Government were cheaper than those procured by the National Capital Region (NCR).
A purchase order dated March 25, 2020, showed that the City purchased 30,000 rt-PCR test kits for P974.67 each.
Dino said the NCR or Metro Manila bought the same brand for P2,000 to P3,000 per kit.
Cebu City also bought the IgG/IgM Rapid Test for P758.9 per kit, but NCR obtained it at P850 to P950 per kit, Dino said.
The City also purchased 30,400 swab kits at P182 per piece while NCR got them for P300, he added.
“Muingon ra ba dayun ni si MIKEY nga ‘I will take full responsibility.’ Tanawun ta. Resign baya dayun ha. Total, dili bitaw ka elected sa taga Cebu. Dili bitaw ka Mayor. Sayun ra kaayo i-resign ui (Then Mikey will say ‘I will take full responsibility.’ Well, let’s see. Resign right away, okay? You’re not elected by the people of Cebu anyway. You are not the mayor. It should be easy for you to resign),” Garcia said in a later post.
The rapid antibody test was the testing modality selected for surveillance and monitoring of exposure to the coronavirus in the tri-cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu.
Dr. Mary Jean P. Loreche, chief pathologist of DOH 7, said there were more than 30 FDA-approved rapid antibody test kits, but after initial screening, only nine were selected.
Loreche said of the nine, only four gave a very satisfactory result with a confidence level of 98 percent.
Results of the rapid antibody test will determine the person's immune response to coronavirus exposure.
Once the patient tests positive for Immunoglobulin M (IgM), a type of antibody, the patient is then subjected to confirmation of the presence of the coronavirus through swabbing and rt-PCR testing, Loreche said.
Loreche further explained that antibody testing was needed to find out how many residents of the tri-cities needed to have the more tedious rt-PCR testing which involved swabbing and laboratory testing.
Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella in a virtual press conference on Wednesday, June 17, said he will continue with the massive rapid antibody testing so that people who could be carriers of the virus can be immediately isolated.
Labella said some sectors had urged him to stop the massive testing as it showed a continued rise of Covid-19 cases in the city.
The recent spike in the number of Covid-19 cases in Cebu City was reportedly brought about by test specimens taken during the massive rapid testing from May 6 to 20, but whose results were belatedly released due to technical issues at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center laboratory.
Labella said rapid testing was the only way to immediately isolate infected residents, trace their contacts, test, and treat.