Gordon prods gov’t to probe ‘overcharging’ by private labs of COVID-19 tests in airports

Published October 27, 2020, 3:52 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Richard Gordon on Tuesday urged the government to look into reports of private laboratories taking advantage and increasing the cost for COVID-19 testing especially in airports.

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

Gordon expressed belief that the cost of COVID-19 testing in the country could shoot up especially if the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) could no longer conduct tests on referrals submitted to them by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

The senator floated this possibility since his office has received complaints from Filipinos returning from overseas being ushered to private laboratories that charge as high as P10,000 to P20,000 for COVID-19 testing as soon as they arrive at the airports or seaports.

“Somebody’s getting a free pass. The lack of testing by the Red Cross has opened opportunities for private laboratories and we have reports, I have it here,” Gordon said in an online interview.

The PRC has temporarily suspended any PhilHealth-related COVID-19 testing since October 14 due to an unsettled balance, which Gordon said, now stands to more than P1.1-billion.

Showing screenshot messages from his sources, Gordon said they were complaining of higher prices of COVID-19 testing which ranges from P10,000 to P20,000.

These private laboratories, he said, are targeting foreigners, ‘Balikbayans’, Filipinos with dual citizenship and other individuals whom they think they can afford it.

“Originally they would charge them P4,500 now they are charging P10,000 for 24 hours. If you want it shorter than that, you pay P20,000,” he said.

Gordon said he welcomes President Duterte’s pronouncement regarding corruption, saying his administration should then look into reports of these costly COVID-19 testing being conducted in the airports.

“Buti sinabi ng President ‘yung corruption. Siguro dapat tingnan ‘yan dahil biglang nagtaasan doon sa airport ‘yung mga test at marami na ngayong nagte-test doon, (I’m glad the President mentioned corruption. I think they should look into this allegations, because the cost of COVID-19 testing increased in the airports and a lot of people are getting tested there),” he said in an interview on CNN Philippines.

“The government can control it,” Gordon stressed.