I WAS informed that there were some persons who “reacted violently” to my column last Monday, Aug. 24, entitled “Stop using rapid test-DOH.” They even accused me of spreading fake news, imputing malice, being ignorant and “kulang sa pansin.”
First, on spreading fake news? I just quoted an online CNN Philippines report published last Aug. 22. Second, malice is only in the minds of malicious people. Third, ignorant? I think I am not that dumb because I can comprehend what I read. Lastly, I don’t need to make a gimmick so that people will read or listen to me. I am just expressing my thought and took a stand on issues. As the SunStar motto says: “Take a stand.”
An appointed official who, like me, has no medical background lectured me about the various types of Covid-19 tests on his Facebook page where he attached my column. I must admit that I don’t have any medical background. I did not have any medical subject during my college days because I was in the field of broadcast journalism. If I discussed issues about medical matters in my columns and broadcast an issue like Covid, they are a product of painstaking, thorough reading and comprehension on the subject matter, doing research and quoting experts.
But, wait a minute, why should they take it personally against me when I was just quoting Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary and spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire? They should argue and debate with Vergeire and not with Bobby Nalzaro. The article was based on Vergeire’s virtual forum with local chief executives warning them about the use of rapid anti-body test, that it’s not accurate and reliable. This theory was also supported by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Maybe my comment on a “hidden agenda” as reason for pushing the rapid anti-body testing despite it being discouraged offended them. Well, I am not pointing an accusing finger against anybody as committing corruption or doing shenanigans, but that is a natural public reaction and perception. Why force the issue when experts discourage the use of the rapid test? We know how some government officials deal with transactions. They resort to overpricing, under the table transactions and commissions and the suppliers are their business associates, relatives and dummies.
They also accused me of being an anti-Duterte. No, I am not anti-Duterte. In fact, I supported some of the policies of this administration. What I don’t like is that there are some people in this administration who are using their power and influence to take advantage of this situation for their own personal gain and selfish interest. They are opportunists.
Does the government have the power to charge any individual who refuses to undergo a swab test? Yes. The Department of Health (DOH) announced last Monday, Aug. 24, that people who refuse to undergo swab test might face stiff fines or a jail term.
Vergeire said this is covered by Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, which prohibits non-cooperation of individuals.
“Let us remember that if you refuse a swab test or do not cooperate with local health officials, you are not the only one affected because this is an infectious disease. You can infect your family and the entire community,” Vergeire said.
She explained that if “you have been approached by the local government to get swabbed, it means you were identified to be exposed or you have symptoms.” Under RA 11332, a violation may be punished with a fine of not less than P20,000 but not more than P50,000 or imprisonment of not less than a month but not more than six months.