By Archie Villaflores


Filipinos online were quick to react to President Rodrigo Duterte's latest remarks saying he has now realized the importance of testing to stop the spread of the coronavirus.


"Alam mo ang importante pala, sa totoo lang and I realize now, it’s the testing — ‘yung swabbing pati ‘yung test. Kasi mahal," the President said at the start of his virtual public address on Monday night, December 7.


The chief executive has — finally — also ordered the health department to craft a plan on how health centers can conduct COVID-19 tests for free starting next year.


"Free of charge. Target the first or second quarter if you can have a program where I can review and look for the money," he said.

But there has long been public clamor for mass testing in the country as early as March when local transmission of the disease has been confirmed, with #MassTestingNow being the top trending hashtag on social media sites multiple times.

Netizens then compared President Duterte to web browser Internet Explorer, which will be soon shut down by tech giant Microsoft. Many web users have been complaining that it is running very slow thus the birth of memes regarding late reaction.


Here are some of the comments posted by netizens on Explained PH:

"Internet explorer pa."

"Forget internet explorer. He's using dial up."

"9 months delayed. Dial up pa ang internet. 🤡🤡🤡" 


"This statement would be great last March 16."

"Wow! Super late realization. It’s just like a pregnant woman who realized the importance of contraceptives 9 months after doing it. 😏😏😏"

 "Jusko,thousands of people were calling for masstesting way back march. If only they invested in testing and tracing possibly infected people back then,then we couldve atleast reduced the number of people infected by the virus."

Some other online users took to Twitter to react on the President's remarks, as 'Duterte' and 'Internet Explorer' became among the top trending topics since Tuesday morning garnering thousands of tweets. 

Amid intense public backlash on President Duterte's 'late realization' of the importance of COVID-19 mass testing, his spokesperson Harry Roque maintained that the government has been prioritizing it during the pandemic fight.

"Sa mula't mula po ang ating prayoridad ay i-improve ang ating testing capacity kaya po tayo ngayon ay isa sa pinakamataasna testing capacity sa buong asia," said Roque in his regular press briefing Tuesday.

He added: "We've always given priority to testing, nandiyan si Vince Dizon as testing czar and we now have one of the highest testing capacities in the whole world."

Earlier in May, Roque said the government has been conducting 'expanded targeted testing' and repeatedly stressed that it would be "physically impossible" to do a mass testing in the country which has almost 100 million population.


Roque went under fire for his remark over erroneously defining mass testing amid calls for the government to ramp up its testing efforts as it gradually relax quarantine restrictions in various areas in a bid to revive the economy.


The Philippines has conducted 29,442 total tests in a day as of December 5 which is significantly higher than 1,785 on April 10, according to Our World in Data. Although It's one of the highest in the world, that's also because the Philippines has a growing number of infections, with 441, 399 confirmed cases as of Monday, December 7.


In September, the Supreme Court has junked a petition seeking to compel the Duterte administration to conduct free mass testing “for failure of petitioners to show that they are entitled to the issuance of a writ of mandamus.” The high court added it could "not dictate how another branch of the government should do its job."


As of December 7, the national tally of COVID-19 is at 441, 399 total cases, of whom 24,125 are active, 408,702 have already recovered while 8,572 have succumbed to the disease.