MANILA - Senate Majoriy Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and his friends on Wednesday donated 13,000 units of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) test kits as the government prepares for a mass testing program next week.
The COVID-19 test kits will be given to "public and private hospitals for the use of their medical frontliners and symptomatic patients," said Zubiri, the first national official who tested positive for COVID-19 last month.
"From first-hand experience, I know how easily and deceptively this virus can spread... Kaya kailangan na po talaga natin ng massive testing," Zubiri said in a statement.
"We cannot battle this virus if we cannot even confirm how many of our people already have it, and which places have the most cases and therefore need tighter containment efforts," he said.
Some 6,000 COVID-19 test kits were given to the Philippine General Hospital, while 7,100 units will be divided among St. Lukes Medical Centers, Makati Medical Center, Medical City, UST Hospital, and Asian Hospital.
The senator donated P5 million, while his friends from the "Art Rockers" group pooled nearly P10 million to purchase the testing kits.
Among the notable personalities who contributed to the cause were journalists Julius Babao and Ces Drilon, Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez, celebrities Aga Muhlach and Edu Manzano, as well as several businessmen and doctors from different hospitals.
Sen. Sonny Angara, who also tested positive for COVID-19, also donated to buy the testing kits, Zubiti said without disclosing how much his colleague gave.
"I know that our entire medical community is in overdrive right now, trying to control this pandemic in the midst of a global shortage of resources. Sana po makatulong itong munting donation namin kahit papaano, para tuluyan na nating malabanan at ma-eliminate ang COVID-19 dito sa Pilipinas," Zubiri said.
Zubiri, Angara and other senators drew flak last month for allegedly taking COVID-19 tests despite the Department of Health's policy that only the elderly or symptomatic patients may be swabbed due to the lack of test kits in the country.
In March, a Senate inquiry found that the DOH only had some 2,000 COVID-19 test kits a few days before the government declared a state of calamity due to the rapid spread of the disease.
Since then, foreign governments, private organizations and philanthropists have donated thousands of COVID-19 test kits to the Philippines.