Duque told to correct 'ridiculous' statements about COVID-19 transmission, second wave in PH

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 21 2020 04:26 PM | Updated as of May 21 2020 05:05 PM

Healthworkers conduct swab tests at a drive thru testing center in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig on April 29, 2020. As part of the city’s Systematic Approach to Responsible Testing (SMART) program, the testing facility aims to target residents who own vehicles and are unable to get tested through other testing sites. The drive-thru testing facility is located at the Northeast Parking Area in front of Kidzania, and is open every Wednesday from 3pm - 5pm. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday urged Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to correct his "ridiculous" statement that the Philippines is now on a second wave of coronavirus outbreak, saying the comment has "sowed panic" in many groups.

Duque on Wednesday told senators that the Philippines is currently on the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, but at least 3 other Cabinet members and medical experts refuted his claim, saying the country has not yet even addressed the first wave of infections.

"The 3 Chinese nationals he mentioned was not even a ripple. How could that be a wave?" Zubiri said, referring to Duque's explanation that the Philippines' first COVID-19 wave happened in January when 3 tourists from virus epicenter Wuhan, China tested positive for the disease.

"Doctors have been commenting that it was such a ridiculous statement that sowed panic to many groups, particularly business groups," the Majority Leader said.

"Now they (businessmen) have to explain to their employees and their clients why they have to open while we are on a second wave," he said.

The Philippines "admitting" that it is on a second wave "shows incompetence" as it proves that the government "was not able to control the first wave," Zubiri said.

"I hope the government can correct this. It is sowing panic... They should be very careful with their statements," he said.


Senators Nancy Binay and Joel Villanueva also flagged Duque's claim that the World Health Organization said there is no proof that asymptomatic COVID-19 patients could not transmit the disease.

"Hindi sinabi ng WHO na hindi nakakahawa ang walang symptoms ng COVID," Binay said, citing a WHO document released on April 2 which said that "some reports have indicated that people with low symptoms may transmit the virus."

"Sobrang nakakabahala kung ang Secretary of Health mismo ang nagsasabi ng maling info tungkol sa COVID-19," she said.

The wrong information from Duque is a "cause of concern" as it tends to confuse the public about the real situation, Villanueva said.

"I hope ma-clarify ito nang husto because it is causing a lot of trouble," he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said that the Philippines is still on the first wave of COVID-19 cases and that Duque only had a "different opinion."

"Nagpapaumanhin po kami kung kayo ay naalarma pero ang katunayan po ang siyensya naman po at importante ang pagbasa sa mga waves para alam natin ang gagawin na response," Roque said in a press briefing.

(We apologize if the public was alarmed but science and understanding waves are important in preparing our response.)

Duque has yet to make a comment about his statement that has been debunked by his peers in the Cabinet and members of the Health sector.