NBI tapped to stop fake tests in Boracay
ILOILO CITY—The National Bureau of Investigation has been tapped to look into the falsification of COVID-19 test results presented by more than 100 tourists as a requirement to enter Boracay Island in Aklan province.
In an order dated April 23, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra directed the NBI to conduct an investigation, case buildup and, if warranted, prosecution of those found liable for using falsified negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results.
Aklan provincial administrator Selwyn Ibarreta, head of the provincial COVID-19 Technical Working Group, welcomed the involvement of the NBI in running after those responsible for the fake documents.
As of April 26, the provincial government had recorded 166 tourists who used fake or tampered test results in seeking approval to enter the 1,032-hectare resort island in Malay town.
Ibarreta said most of these tourists were barred from boarding their flights to Barangay Caticlan in Malay, the jump-off point to the island.
In a meeting of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force on March 18, local officials sought the assistance of the Department of Justice to address the problem.
The provincial government and Malay police have filed criminal complaints for falsification of documents against 11 tourists who were carrying falsified COVID-19 results and were intercepted in Boracay.
The Department of Tourism also filed criminal complaints against six other tourists.
Tourists bound for Boracay Island are required to provide a negative RT-PCR test result within 72 hours before their trip to the island. It was only late last month that saliva COVID-19 tests were allowed.
Ibarreta said that while many of those who were barred deliberately submitted falsified test results, others were unwittingly deceived by people offering home testing services.“We also want to protect tourists who may have been deceived by persons falsifying the test results,” he told the Inquirer.
Boracay Island has been struggling to manage a local COVID-19 outbreak in recent weeks. The Malay government had recorded 229 cases on the island since the pandemic started. These include 56 active cases, 172 recoveries and one death. INQ
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