DOT warns tourists who may be tempted to fake COVID-19 tests of fines, jail time
MANILA, Philippines — Tourists who are planning to submit fake COVID-19 test results, which are required for travel to different destinations, may face hefty fines and possible imprisonment if they push through, the Department of Tourism (DOT) warned on Wednesday.
According to DOT, local governments could impose fines on erring tourists — just like what happened to six Metro Manila residents who were blocked from entering Boracay Island last January 21 after authorities found out that they falsified their RT-PCR swab test results.
Three of the six tourists were earlier confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus.
“In light of the recent case of six tourists entering Boracay with fake RT-PCR test results, three of whom were revealed to be positive for COVID-19, the [DOT] appeals to travelers to stop forging and faking travel documents, else face fines and proper criminal charges from the local government units (LGU), which may include the penalty of imprisonment,” DOT said in a statement.
The department stressed that RT-PCR tests are accessible for those who may want to travel at below P1,000 per head at various government hospitals.
“The DOT reminds the public that subsidized RT-PCR tests for Manila-based tourists are available through the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and the Philippine Children’s Medical Hospital (PCMC), at P900 and P750, from the UP-PGH and PCMC, respectively,” DOT noted.
“The DOT also urges its partners in the LGUs to tighten their assessment of applications made through their registration system,” it added.
Reports on Wednesday said that the six individuals had been brought to the Aklan Training Center, the province’s quarantine facility.
The remaining tourists from the group tested negative for the virus, but they were also brought to the quarantine facility.
This is not the first case that some tourists submitted falsified RT-PCR test results. Last December 7, another group of six individuals was extracted from their hotel rooms in Boracay after authorities realized that their COVID-19 test results were falsified.
Just weeks after, two male tourists did the same thing — entering Boracay with fake test results.
Local government officials said that the violators would face criminal charges as they violated Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.
DOT also assured other tourists that they are monitoring the six tourists’ close contacts, as local officials are already doing contact tracing to avoid local transmissions.
“Meanwhile, the DOT Boracay unit is in close coordination with the Municipality of Malay health authorities for contact tracing and monitoring of the concerned tourists who are currently quarantined at the Aklan Training Center,” DOT said.
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