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Arriving Pinoys 'asked to pay' up to P20k for faster COVID test —Gordon


Filipinos arriving from abroad are supposedly being charged up to P20,000 for a faster release of their COVID-19 test results, Senator Richard Gordon said on Sunday.

In a Dobol B sa News TV interview, Gordon, who also chairs the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), said the non-government organization has recently set up testing booths at airports as many overseas Filipino workers and passengers were already complaining about the fees being asked for their COVID-19 test.

"Sa airport, wala kaming pwesto dun, hanggang four days ago naglagay na ako ng pwesto, nakiusap na ako dahil umaangal na lahat yung mga OFW at mga pasahero," he said.

"Dinadala sila doon sa linya, [sinisingil] ng P10,000 kada test. Yung iba P7,000. Kung gusto mo mabilis, P10,000. Kung gusto mo pinakamabilis, P20,000," he added.

Gordon believes that passengers are being diverted to testing booths that charge higher fees because there are entities who take commissions out of these tests.

"Yan ang tinitingnan natin, talagang may nagsasamantala," he said.

"Gusto kong imbestigahan ito," he also said, adding that the entity conducting these tests is from a private organization.

The PRC recently halted conducting COVID-19 tests chargeable to PhilHealth after the latter failed to settle its outstanding balance amounting to nearly P1 billion.

The state health insurer then said it would settle its obligations to PRC on Monday.

But Gordon believes that there is a group within PhilHealth that has been influencing its new chief, Atty. Dante Gierran, to delay the payment to PRC.

"Definitely, bago lang siya diyan e," he said.

He added that an entity might also be benefitting from the delay in the payment of dues to PRC.

"It could appear so. It's not to the interest of the government that one-third of the tests sa country papatigil mo," Gordon said.

For now, Gordon said that the PRC is ready to continue conducting COVID-19 tests chargeable to PhilHealth once it settles its obligations.

He also said that in order for PhilHealth not to be burdened by paying its dues, they should pay its balances every three days.

"Bayaran nila yung P930 million tapos within three days bayaran nila ang balance. Mula ngayon, pairalin yung kontrata. Every time mag-test kami, in three days bayaran. Natatakot ako na kapag lumaki yan, paano kung di kami bayaran? Edi bangkarote ang Red Cross," he said.

PRC conducts 30% of the total COVID-19 tests performed nationwide.

Data from the Department of Health show that the organization accounted for over 1 million of the 4.3 million tests conducted as of October 18. —LBG, GMA News

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