2 El Nido tourists nabbed for tampered entry in virus test
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Two tourists were arrested in the resort town of El Nido in Palawan province this week for tampering with their COVID-19 test documents, police said on Thursday.
Police Maj. Analyn Palma, chief of the El Nido police, said the tourists, both Filipinos and female, would likely face criminal charges for falsification of documents and violation of Republic Act No. 11332, or the law on the mandatory reporting of communicable disease, for their failure to truthfully declare their health status.
The tourists were both “very apologetic” as they admitted to authorities that they changed the validity date of their reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results to match it with the date of their trip from Manila to El Nido, Palma said.
They were placed in police custody pending the filing of charges against them, she added.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) and the police earlier warned of legal action against those found to be falsifying or tampering with their COVID-19 test results.
Only last week, the DOT filed charges against six tourists who presented fake negative RT-PCR test results when they visited Boracay Island in January. Three of them later tested positive for COVID-19.
Raymond Osorio, municipal disaster risk reduction and management officer in El Nido, said screening officials at the airport detected the tampering when the date on their printed test results did not match the date in the documents’ QR codes.
The QR codes showed that the results were issued on Feb. 13 and valid until Feb. 15. The tourists, however, arrived in El Nido on Feb. 16 and changed the printed dates of their RT-PCR test documents to match with their arrival.
According to Osorio, the two women claimed that a staff in the laboratory where they took their tests made a mistake in the date entry.
But Osorio said they would rather give credence to the date reflected on the QR codes provided for the tests.
“The QR code does not lie. It says the tests were done on the 13th and they arrived on Tuesday, meaning the results were beyond the 72-hour validity period,” Osorio said. —ROMAR MIRANDA
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