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DTI, DOLE say regular swab testing now voluntary

The Departments of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Labor and Employment (DOLE) have backtracked and said employers are no longer mandated to provide free regular swab testing for certain sectors, contrary to an earlier released circular that required employers to shoulder such initiative.

In a statement, the DTI said the two departments issued Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 2020-04-A, which effectively shifted to a voluntary regular swab testing versus the earlier circular which mandated this.

The wording of the new JMC states that employees "may be tested," contrary to the earlier released advisory JMC 20-04 which read "shall undergo RT-PCR tests."

The previous JMC mandated employees in the following sectors to undergo the real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction free of charge:

  • Tourist zones
  • Local manufacturing companies
  • Transport and logistics
  • Food retail
  • Education
  • Financial services
  • Non-food retail
  • Services
  • Public market
  • Construction
  • Water supply
  • Sewerage
  • Waste management
  • Public sector
  • Mass media

The JMC was in coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and took effect Saturday, August 15.

The People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) in May already appealed for the government to consider providing free testing to private sector employees, especially those working for the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

However, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the government will not shoulder the cost of mass testing of private employees returning to work. — RSJ, GMA News