Private messaging is the medium

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    THE busiest communication platform in this time of quarantine and lockdown is private messaging. Facebook Messenger, What’s App, Telegram, Viber. There are more.

    It’s a wild, wild west in private platforms, which is beyond the domain of certified fact checkers.

    At this time when government’s credibility is low, information is shared there before it is confirmed or denied in mainstream media.

    Take for example, this report that former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, who recently arrived from Spain, is afflicted with COVID-19 and was airlifted to Singapore in the private jet of Chavit Singson. There was a dubious-looking medical report from St. Luke’s Medical Center dated March 22, 2020 11:16 p.m. Patient’s name is Marcos, Ferdinand Jr. Romualdez.

    The speculations were partly confirmed when Atty. Liza Marcos, wife of Bongbong, released a statement late Thursday morning accompanied by a photo of a smiling former senator in bed in a sparsely decorated bedroom holding the March 26 issue of The Tribune with the headline, “Duque dictates on donors.”

    Liza said, “Contrary to rumors currently circulating, my husband is well. His lungs did not collapse. He was not airlifted in Manong Chavit’s plane to get treatment in Singapore. He is not dying. Nor is he dead.”

    She said the accompanying photo was taken by her sons yesterday morning. “As you can see, he is at home and very much alive.”

    Liza further said: “Yesterday, we had ourselves and our entire staff tested for COVID-19. Fortunately, we all tested NEGATIVE.”

    Reactions to Liza’s statement was, “Oh, they had their tests ‘yesterday’ and they got the results immediately?”

    Those who had undergone testing said it took several days before they got the results. Doctors who had died never got to know the results of their tests.

    Later in the afternoon, the former senator himself issued a statement, using the same bedroom photo.

    He said he is “ok” and on “self-quarantine.”

    “As my sister said, a few days ago I was feeling a little under the weather and as a result went to get checked. We are still waiting for the results, “his statement said.

    Ano ba talaga?

    These are the kinds of statements that fuel more speculations because the readers see through the dishonesty.

    Same is true with Sen. Aquilino Martin Pimentel III, who was the subject of denunciation by the Makati Medical Center Delivery Room for his “irresponsible and reckless action” when he accompanied his wife to the hospital evening of March 24.

    In a strongly worded statement, MMC Medical Director Dr. Saturnino Javier related that on March 24,” the strict infection and containment protocols of the Makati Medical Center Delivery Room Complex (MMC-DR) were breached by a Senator of the Republic of the Philippines.”

    “Senator Aquilino Martin D. Pimentel III whose result for COVID-19 testing turned out to be positive brought his wife to the hospital for delivery via caesarian section. By being in MMC, Senator Pimentel violated his Home Quarantine protocol, entered the premises of the MMC-DR, thus unduly exposed healthcare workers to possible infection.

    “As a result, a number of our nurses and doctors may need to be quarantined which will further deplete the dwindling workforce of the hospital. The entire delivery room will have to undergo decontamination and disinfection before it can be used.”

    “By his action, he contributed no solution. In fact, he created another problem” for MMC.

    Javier said, “His admonition for everyone to observe social distancing, enhanced community quarantine measures, washing of hands and personal hygiene are nothing but empty rhetoric because he himself violated all those.”

    The medical community and many netizens rallied behind Javier.

    Yesterday, Pimentel apologized to MMC saying that he was already in the hospital when the RITM called him up to inform him that he was positive of COVID-19. He said he informed the OB-gyne doctor of the result and immediately left the hospital premises.

    “I was not coughing and I didn’t have fever the short time I was in the MMC premises and was wearing face mask and gloves.”

    He further said, “No doctor ordered my COVID testing. It was my own initiative, as an expectant father, after learning that my other colleagues had themselves tested and out of precaution because I was living with a pregnant wife who was nearing the time of childbirth.”

    Pimentel’s explanation does not jibe with what are circulating in private messages.

    Who to believe?