House inquiry on P370 charge for ‘yellow cards’ sought
MANILA, Philippines — Several lawmakers in the House of Representatives are seeking an inquiry into the P370 charge imposed by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) for those who seek to secure an international certificate of vaccination (ICV) or “yellow card.”
Under House Resolution No. 2198, the lawmakers, which included those from both the majority and minority bloc, pointed out that under the law, the issuance, amendment, or replacement of a vaccine card shall be “free of charge.”
“It appears that in order to obtain the ICV, our citizens need to book an appointment through the Bureau of Quarantine website, and pay P300 for the issuance of the said certificate plus a convenience fee of P70, thereby adding to the financial burden of OFWs wishing to return to their work abroad,” the lawmakers said.
According to the lawmakers, the BOQ also partnered with FinTech company, PisoPay, to receive the payment for the issuance of the ICV.
“There is a need for more transparency and more government information as to the Bureau of Quarantine’s charging for the issuance of the ICV in view of existing laws on the matter,” the lawmakers said.
“Now therefore, be it resolved, to direct the House committee on overseas workers affairs to conduct an inquiry into the BOQ’s contract with PisoPay for the issuance of the international vaccine certificate as well as the fees being charged for the issuance of the said ICV,” they added.
To recall, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin earlier said the vaccination cards issued in the Philippines are not honored by Hong Kong authorities since they did not come from one source, which led to several overseas Filipino workers not being able to fly to Hong Kong for their work.
Furthermore, the concerned officials expressed doubts to the financial track record of the company because of reports exposing the alleged failure of PisoPay to comply with their obligation to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to submit their Annual Income Tax Returns for 2018 and 2019 and the Monthly Remittance Return on Income Taxes Withheld on Compensation from April to May 2020 based on the BIR CMS record as of first week of August 2021.
This is aside from the documents showing that the company handling the multi-billion peso government contract was losing money for the last two years based on their 2019 vs. 2020 Audited Income Statements, Balance Sheets and Stockholders Equity.
To date, some OFW’s were complaining about the limited slots of the computerized appointment system. According to them, in order to obtain the ICV, the OFWs need to book an appointment to the Bureau of Quarantine website, but the earliest appointment schedule is in December of this year.
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