MANILA – Malacañang dismissed as “false news” allegations that the Department of Health (DOH) ordered a hospital in Metro Manila to stop counting the number of fatalities caused by the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the allegation was “bereft of logic and common sense”, saying there was nothing the government could gain from concealing the real Covid-19 situation.
“What would the government get from concealing the actual number of deaths due to Covid-19?” he said in a statement on Sunday.
Citing the DOH, Panelo said these allegations have already been debunked.
The DOH even ordered an investigation on the matter, he added.
He said the government is “precisely interested” in knowing the number of Covid-19 deaths to determine the status of our fight against Covid-19 and undertake measures to improve the health system.
As of Sunday, health authorities reported a total of 4,648 Covid-19 cases, 297 deaths, and 197 recoveries.
He also reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte himself ordered all concerned government agencies to ensure transparency in dealing with the health crisis.
“The policy of the President as pronounced by him in his television message to the nation is to be transparent to the Filipino people on any aspect of governance, particularly as in the present crisis, in relation to Covid-19,” he said.
He also reminded the public, especially prominent media practitioners, to be more responsible in posting unconfirmed information they receive.
“It is more helpful to validate the same with the government offices concerned instead of publishing it which may be accepted by gullible netizens as true,” he added.
Earlier, the DOH, in a statement, clarified that it has never issued any order to stop the census or reporting of fatalities, or any case related to Covid-19 to any health facility.
In a virtual presser on Sunday, Cabinet Secretary and Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) spokesperson Karlo Nograles also denied the allegations.
“Hindi po tayo nag-uutos ng concealment. Bawal po ‘yan (There is no order to conceal Covid-19 fatalities. That is illegal),” he said.
He said it is the government’s responsibility to give all the facts and actions being taken in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Over the weekend, broadcaster Arnold Clavio, on his official Instagram account, cited an unnamed front-liner claiming that there were several bodies littered the hallway of a certain Metro Manila hospital.
In his Instagram post, he tagged Health Secretary Francisco Duque III seeking clarification on the issue.
Duque, in his official Twitter account, vowed to investigate immediately after Clavio disclosed to him the hospital allegedly involved in the issue.
“The DOH did NOT and will NEVER issue a directive for hospitals to conceal the number of COVID-19 deaths,” he said.
Under the “Bayanihan To Heal As One Act” or Republic Act 11469, fake news peddlers may be penalized with imprisonment of two months or a fine ranging from PHP10,000 to PHP1 million. (PNA)