Sen. Gordon: OFWs, airline passengers sent to COVID-19 testing booths that charge exorbitant fees

Published October 25, 2020, 5:53 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Richard Gordon on Sunday, Oct. 25, disclosed that some Filipinos arriving in the Philippines are being diverted to testing booths at the airports that are charging COVID-19 testing fees as high as P20,000.

Senator Richard Gordon
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In an interview over GMANews TV, Gordon said the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), of which he is president and CEO, has set up testing booths at airports after many overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and passengers complained of the high cost of COVID-19 tests.

According to Gordon, the non-government organization has decided to set up testing booths at the airports to accommodate the passengers and OFWs that have been complaining.

“Dinadala sila doon sa linya na P10,000 kada test [ang singil], ‘yung iba P7,000. Kung gusto mo mabilis P10,000. Kung gusto mo pinakamabilis, P20,000,” Gordon said.

(Passengers are brought to booths that charge P10,000 per test, while others charge P7,000. If you want it fast, P10,000. If you want the fastest results, P20,000.)

The senator said this bolsters his belief that there are groups who are taking advantage of the COVID-19 test and use it as a racket.

“‘Yan ang tinitignan natin, talagang may nagsasamantala. Gusto kong imbestigahan ito,” Gordon said.

(That’s what we are looking into, that there are people taking advantage of the situation. I want to investigate this.)

The PRC recently stopped conducting COVID-19 tests that are chargeable to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) after it failed to settle its debt with the PRC, which amounts to nearly P1.1 billion.

PhilHealth, Gordon noted, has assured it would settle its obligations to PRC, but noted how its officials are stalling its payment.

The lawmaker said he believes a group is influencing PhilHealth chief Atty. Dante Gierran to delay paying their outstanding balance since he is new in the agency.

But Gordon said PRC will resume its PhilHealth-related COVID-19 testing as soon as the state health insurance agency settles its debt.