President Duterte has ordered the arrest of individuals who will present fake reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results as travel requirement, saying the country will not overcome the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic if this cheating persists.
Duterte made the statement following reports of local tourists being busted for faking their swab test results.
In his pre-recorded public address on Monday, June 14, President Duterte appealed to the public not to produce fake RT-PCR tests, and ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Tourism (DOT), and the local government units (LGUs) to arrest those who are presenting falsified COVID-19 test results as the country will not be safe if the act continues.
“It has come to my attention that some travelers arriving in various parts of the country, most notably in Boracay, are presenting fake COVID-19 tests. Wag ho ninyo gawin ‘yan (Please do not do that),” he said.
“I am directing PNP, DOT, LGU to arrest those who are presenting fake RT-PCR test results and enforce strict compliance of local tourism,” he said.
According to the President, he knows the people were already tired of staying in the house but urged them not to travel unless the majority of the population have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Unless and until everybody is really vaccinated, huwag muna tayong… (Let us not travel),” Duterte said.
“I know that you want to go out, I know that you are itching to travel. But please, kung may ibang panahon lang na magawa mo ‘yan (if you have some other time to do that), do it at some other time,” he added.
The Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has allowed leisurely trips as long as travelers test negative for COVID-19 and will comply with government guidelines.
Early this month, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar encouraged the public to “rediscover the Philippines,” saying the tourism industry plays a huge role in keeping the country’s economy rolling.
To make this possible amid a global health crisis, Andanar said it was necessary for the government to keep in touch with tourism stakeholders.
Recently, the government’s pandemic task force has allowed historical sites and museums in the National Capital Region-plus (NCR) area to resume operations at 20 percent venue capacity subject to safety protocols.