DOJ goes after illegal swab centers
Multiple charges await operators of illegal COVID-19 swabbing centers as well as those who issue or use fake swab test results, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra warned on Thursday.
Guevarra told reporters that those behind the operation of illegal coronavirus testing centers could be charged with violating local ordinances on business establishments, the Consumer Act and Republic Act No. 4688, which regulates the operation and maintenance of clinical laboratories in the country.
He also warned that facilities and individuals that use fake swab test results might be charged for violation of the Medical Act, as well as Articles 174 and 175 of the Revised Penal Code for falsification and/or use of falsified medical certificates.
Other possible charges were for the violation of Republic Act No. 11332, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, Guevarra added.
1 down, more to go
Police officers earlier shut down a testing center in Singalong, Manila, that allegedly offered COVID-19 swab tests without a certification from health authorities. The testing facility found inside a house at a residential area reportedly offered swab tests costing P3,000 each.
Recently, several tourists have also been caught and charged for submitting fake negative COVID-19 test results—one of the requirements set by some local governments in destinations that have reopened to local travelers.
On Wednesday, former Health Secretary Janette Garin, now an Iloilo congresswoman, pushed a congressional probe of the fake test results that were even being peddled on Facebook.
Punish customers, too
“We urge the government to immediately prosecute those involved. Liability should extend not only to those providing such but also to those availing of such services. They are the reasons why COVID-19 is happily attacking us … I enjoin the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate this for faster action,” Garin said.
“While fake results are partly to blame for the COVID-19 surge, it will also be worth looking into the exorbitant cost of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing … Those caught faking results should be quarantined for three months and help man the quarantine centers,” she said.
Screenshots of conversations involving the peddlers of the fake results showed that the test results can be bought for P1,500 to P2,000.
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