Marikina City will push through with the opening of its COVID-19 testing lab on Friday despite the absence of approval from the Department of Health (DOH), Mayor Marcy Teodoro announced today.
Teodoro said he was ready to be sued by the DOH, whose team was supposed to inspect the PHP3.8 million-worth (US$75,000) facility yesterday but did not show up, ABS-CBN News reports. He said it was necessary to open the lab due to the pandemic, which has infected nearly 5,000 people in the Philippines, the highest number in Southeast Asia.
“They can sue me but this is for my people. The DOH’s lack of action is a greater offense to the law and to the people,” Teodoro told radio station DZBB in Filipino.
He added that the shortage of testing labs has led to a delay in the reporting of cases, citing a 75-year-old Marikina resident whose COVID-19 result was released two days after he died.
“Perhaps the data is not wrong, but the reporting is late, and I would say late reporting is a wrong reporting,” the mayor said.
Last month, the DOH rejected the lab’s first proposed location, which was on the sixth floor of Marikina’s health office, because they said it should be in a separate building to minimize the risk of cross-infection. But the rejection didn’t faze Teodoro, who found a new location in the village of Concepcion Uno less than a week after being turned down by the Health Department. He also vowed that they would follow the DOH’s safety protocols.
Shortly after Teodoro announced that he would open the lab, a team from the DOH arrived to inspect it, but their evaluation has yet to be publicly available as of writing, CNN Philippines reports.
There are 59 COVID-19 cases in Marikina as of today, 14 of whom died while six have since recovered.