Molecular lab for CDO
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - August 27, 2020 - 12:00am

True to Philippine Red Cross Chairman and CEO Dick Gordon’s word, a molecular laboratory will be installed in Cagayan de Oro city in possibly a couple of weeks. This is cause for rejoicing as the facility will contribute to the early containment of the coronavirus in the city – and in the country.

“The molecular laboratory is being installed because of the need of the region, and through the effort of the chairman, and the request of the chapter,” said lawyer Antonio Soriano, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross CDO-Mis.Or. chapter and governor of the Philippine Red Cross.

According to Soriano, the employees of medium and large companies, local government units, locally stranded individuals, authorized persons outside their residence, and government officials who are required to be tested can benefit from the laboratory because of the proximity of the laboratory’s location. Residents of Misamis Oriental, including the cities of Gingoog and El Salvador, may avail of the services of the laboratory.

The molecular laboratory, with the most sophisticated equipment, will be housed on the second floor of the PRC chapter inside the Capitol grounds.

Atty. Soriano ticked off names of companies and individuals who have contributed to the installation of the facility: A Brown Company, which shouldered the civil works of the lab, and Eugene M. Unabia and Romeo Opada who donated three air conditioners. The MedtechsQuarters serving as the accommodation and quarantine area for the 16 analysists and five specimen collectors, was funded by the CDO Filipino-Chinese community led by Sonny Choi and Efren Uy, chair of the COVID-19 response committee.

The equipment of the molecular lab such as the two rt-PCR machines, the automated RNA extraction machine, io-Safety cabinets among others have arrived from the PRC national headquarters. Accordingly, the COVID-19 testing center will be operational soon and ready to serve the public.

As explained by Soriano, individuals with suspected infection must first go to the city health office where initial examination will be made and which will endorse them to the Red Cross chapter. The chapter will endorse them to the Borja Medical Center or CDO Medical Center to undergo swabbing. The specimens will then be sent to the PRC Molecular laboratory for processing. The result will either be negative or positive. Individuals with negative result will be directly notified of the result. Those with positive result will be sent to the Department of Health which will notify the city government for immediate action like putting them under quarantine, and contact tracing to be made by the city health department. Those needing treatment will be taken to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center.

There are existing molecular laboratories in the city – one at the Polymedic General Hospital, and the other the Maria Reyna XU Hospital, but each has limited capacity. The Red Cross molecular laboratory can initially only provide 3000 testings due to the limited number of medical technicians, nurses and reagents.

Now, a good word about the 70-year-old lawyer. As though his corporate law practice were not enough, he spends time and effort working with the CDO Red Cross chapter, of which he is chairman, fulfill the humanitarian organization’s function of attending to the pressing needs of people, at this time of the pandemic.

He was one of the city’s political activists during the martial law years. But he was, he says, “an activist in a moderate way. We were just against the declaration of martial law and the prolonged stay in power of President Marcos.”

He was invited by the late Mayor Ambing Magtajas to run for a seat in the city council in 1988-1992. During his tenure he was able to pass several ordinances and resolutions that contributed to the development of the city, such as the codifed ordinance of Cagayan de Oro, the no smoking ordinance, the city archive department, the people’s law enforcement board, and the traffic enforcement board (now RTA). After that, Mayor Dongkoy Emano convinced him to run for vice-mayor, which he won. Later he ran against Emano for mayor, but lost. Magtajas, Emano and Soriano were original members of the PDP.

“I used to be a criminal lawyer but for the two criminal cases I handled in my early law pracataice I lost my appetite. I shifted to labor law practice and eventually became a corporate lawyer until now.”

Tony obtained his law degree from the University of the East in 1974 and was admitted to the Bar in 1975. He is the senior managing partner of Soriano, Arana Saarenas & Associates Law Office.

He acts as the corporate secretary of RISE Foundation, Inc., ICS Development Corporation, Kagayhaan-Davao Resources Management Corporation, Kagayhaan-Cagayan de Oro City Resources Management Corporation, and chairman of Xavier Sports and Country Club and Roadside Shops, Inc.

He is chair of the board of Cagayan de Oro Medical Center, governor of the National Red Cross, and chair of the board of First Industrial Plastic Ventures, Inc.

He is also active in civic and professional organization like the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Misamis Oriental Chapter, Rotary Club of Cagayan de Oro City, Philippine Association of Voluntary Arbitrators, and Court of appeals Mediation-Mindanao Station.

The pandemic has had an effect on his family. Says Tony: “I personally felt the pain and anguish over this pandemic because some of my friends were infected and eventually died. My wife is not with me now. She is still in Oroquieta taking care of her father. We could not leave for the US to see, touch and feel our very first apo. I could not also visit my son who is working in Manila since travel is very much restricted. Good my youngest son, who is married, is working in CDO.”

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