Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Delivering Stories of Progress


FIRING LINE: Finally, Duque resigns!

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

About the title of this column, I just said that to grab the DOH’s attention. So be it, if I’d be accused “purveyor of fake news” by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III himself – you 10,000-year-old fart!

Pardon my disdain or my allegory, but what sick agency would tamper its statistics and expect public applause? Just days ago, the DOH reported nothing short of a lie, claiming that 38,075 COVID patients suddenly recovered from the disease.

It handsomely sang the tune of “a mass recovery” while it really meant that it started reclassifying mild and asymptomatic COVID patients beyond 14 days of testing positive for the virus as “recovered” even in the absence of a confirmatory test.

It was, by far, the most dangerous lie carried by media in this pandemic. It was a message to all COVID-positive patients who felt good after two weeks to ditch any more tests – heck, not even a return check-up – and go out into the world and spread some more.

What’s insufferable about this lie is the stamp of truth of the DOH, an agency headed by the same man on top of the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 or IATF.

Rants in social media reflect the growing dislike of Duque, largely because of the runaway statistics on COVID infections; hospitals in full capacity; the lack of medical equipment and ICU facilities; failure to keep medical staff paid and protected, and many other missteps arising from the sheer absence of a clear-cut strategy to confront this pandemic.

And since the statistical curve could not be flattened, the DOH flatters itself by changing how it counts the sick and recovered. Many would agree that it came up with this record-breaking “mass recovery adjustment” as a cover-up for its previous day’s report of the highest daily record of new COVID-19 cases at 3,954.

Taking us for fools, the DOH insists that its “time-based reckoning of recoveries” of mild and asymptomatic cases is now the internationally accepted standard of data management on COVID-19 patients. It begs the question of how government so often and so conveniently points at media for biases and fake news when it sells lies as life-threatening as this latest “alternative truth”.

Sec. Duque, saan ba talaga kami dapat mag-ingat – sa COVID o sa DOH?

*             *             *

SHORT BURSTS. Condolences to the family and all those who were mentored by or shared in the life of Ramon Francisco, former professor in Journalism at UST, former associate editor of the Manila Bulletin, summa cum laude, walking dictionary, thesaurus, grammar guide, and stylebook-in-one, and tireless disco king. Rest in peace, my friend.

For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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