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Gordon welcomes Duterte order to probe Red Cross ‘false positives’ incident in Subic

Senator Richard Gordon on Tuesday welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to investigate the alleged “false positives” COVID-19 test results conducted by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

During the continuation of the Senate blue ribbon panel’s probe into the government procurement of alleged overpriced pandemic supplies, Gordon, also chairman of the PRC, explained the incident in Subic. The issue was first raised by Deputy Speaker and SAGIP party-list Representative Rodante Marcoleta, saying some hospital personnel tested positive for COVID-19, but a retest three days later yielded negative results.

“Nu’ng nagpa-examine sila, 40 ‘yun lumabas, sila ay positive, but ni-recheck namin, ‘yan ang molecular laboratory sa Subic. Ni-recheck namin ‘yan at na-found out na positive. At pagkatapos ngayon ang sasabihin ng mga alipores ni President Duterte, ni Atty. Duterte, na ito raw ay mali, at ngayon pinapa-imbestiga niya kami," Gordon said.

(When they underwent testing, 40 of them tested positive. However we rechecked that, the molecular laboratory in Subic [rechecked the results]. We rechecked and found out that the results were positive. And now, the followers of President Duterte, of Atty. Duterte, are saying these were incorrect, and now he ordered that we are to be investigated.)

"We are open, sir, because we report all the testing to the [Department of Health and to the [Research Institute for Tropical Medicine],” he added.

Gordon asked Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to confirm that all COVID-19 tests are submitted to the DOH and RITM. Duque answered in the affirmative.

The senator also slammed Marcoleta for seeking an investigation against the PRC, calling him the “demolition expert” of ABS-CBN.

“‘Di po ba totoo na ngayon pina-iimbestiga niyo ang Subic laboratory dahil 'yung kahol ng kahol na si Marcoleta na kunyari kumpare ko pa, kinumpare ako akala niya siguro magpe-Presidente ako, gagamitin niyo ako. Nagpakumpare naman ako dahil mahirap kung hindi. Ngayon minumura kami ni Marcoleta. Hindi ko na dapat pansinin ‘yan. ‘Yan ang demolition expert sa ABS-CBN,” Gordon said.

(Isn't it true that now the Subic laboratory is to be investigated because Marcoleta who is yakking and yakking, who pretended to be my close friend because he thinks I will be President, is using me. I agreed to be his close friend because it is hard to refuse. Now Marcoleta is cursing us. I should not even mind him. He is the demolition expert in ABS-CBN.) 

“At hindi po ba totoo na ‘yan ang mga taong ‘yan ngayon e sinasabi na nagkaroon, 'yung mga [medical technologists] namin nagkamali sa Subic?” the senator added.

(And isn't it true that these people are the ones saying our [medical technologists] made a mistake in Subic?)

Marcoleta's side

Marcoleta on Tuesday said Gordon should just stick to facts.

"I hope Sen Gordon could stick to the facts and not unnecessarily resort to ad hominems," Marcoleta said in a statement sent to reporters.

"I had to confirm from Sec Duque if there is indeed a complaint of 'false positives' that was filed with the DOH. For the record, Sec Duque confirmed the existence of said complaint including the ongoing investigation in regard thereto," he said.

The deputy speaker also said the complaint has to be looked into "to maintain the integrity of the data in battling the pandemic."

Marcoleta confirmed that he asked Gordon to be a principal sponsor in his son's wedding as he believed the latter "is a good and sensible man."

"I requested Sen Gordon to act as one of the principal sponsors of my son's wedding in July 2006. The request was based on my honest belief that he is a good and sensible man -- not because he will be running for higher office," he added.

Marcoleta also said the reason for ABS-CBN's closure is public knowledge, and it is not related to the investigations being conducted by Congress and the Commission on Audit report.

"What the senate blue ribbon committee does is no longer in aid of legislation," he added, and said "the committee cannot take the place of our National Prosecution Service, to whom the committee should refer any questionable transactions they may have exposed during their inquiry, if any."

Marcoleta then said "a prolonged period of investigation on only 1 supplier betrays its objectivity."

During the House hearing on Monday, Duque confirmed receiving the complaint on the incident in Subic and said the RITM is already investigating the matter.

In his latest public address aired Tuesday night, Duterte ordered an investigation into the alleged “false positive” COVID-19 test results reported by the PRC.

He also asked Gordon to answer allegations that he had parked P88 million “pork barrel” funds in the PRC. —With a report from Anna Felicia Bajo/KG, GMA News