NBI arrests 2 persons in ‘fake’ COVID-19 test

Published April 22, 2021, 4:48 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Two persons reportedly engaged in “fake coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing” have been arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Quezon City.

National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)

In a statement issued on Thursday, April 22, NBI Officer-In-Charge Director Eric B. Distor identified the two suspects as Bernadette Ubante Lagat and Paulo Arevalo Onate.

The NBI said the two suspects were behind the Facebook page “Swab Test Pilipinas” which has been offering home service swab tests for P3,500.

 “They claimed that their laboratory is affiliated with DOH’s (Department of Health) accredited laboratory Marilao Medical Diagnostic Center, hence, authorized to perform home service swab testing,” it said.

“Upon verification with the Health Facilities and Services Regulatory Bureau of DOH, the operatives of NBI’s Special Action Unit (SAU) found out that there is no existing licensed facility as COVID-19 Testing Laboratory by the name of ‘SWAB TEST PILIPINAS’,” it pointed out.

Lagat and Onate were arrested at their residence in Sto. Domingo, Quezon City during an entrapment operation conducted by the NBI-SAU operatives who posed as persons seeking to get tested for COVID-19.

Following their arrest, the two suspects were presented for inquest before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office for four counts of estafa under Article 315 (2)(a) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended, and two counts of falsification under Article 172 of the RPC in relation to the Cybercrime Law.

 The NBI said the operation was conducted based on the complaint of a woman whose brother and nephew got swabbed by the suspects.

The NBI said:

“The actual swab test was performed by Subject Lagat herself on the complainant’s brother and nephew on April 11, 2021 at their residence in Sampaloc, Manila.

“The complainant demanded from the subject the issuance of official receipt but the subject refused and informed them that they will not issue onsite.

“A day after, complainant received the result of her nephew with a negative RT-PCR  result carried out by Hero Laboratories.

“When complainant verified the same with the laboratory, she was informed that Hero Laboratories did not perform a RT-PCR test to her nephew.”