In Central Visayas, 47 face raps over fake COVID tests
CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — A total of 47 people here, including government employees, are facing criminal charges for allegedly falsifying their COVID-19 swab test results.
The National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas filed charges of tampering of records and the use of forged certificates against the respondents in the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office on Nov. 19 and Nov. 22.The respondents, who remain at large, will be given the chance to submit their counteraffidavits to refute the allegations.
At a press conference on Monday, NBI regional director Rennan Augustus Oliva said the complaint stemmed from a request of Dr. Gerardo Aquino Jr., medical chief of Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, to investigate the proliferation of fake swab test results that supposedly bore the name of the government hospital.
According to Oliva, Aquino gave the NBI the list of names to be investigated.
“We called them (respondents) one by one. Many of them used the negative swab test result to travel sometime in June and July,” he said.
During those months, Oliva said a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result was needed to travel to other localities. “Many of them were in a hurry and wanted to take a shortcut. Now, they have a problem,” Oliva said.
He said the respondents, who came from the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Cebu as well as from the towns of Argao and Liloan in Cebu province, and Tagbilaran City in Bohol province, paid at least P1,000 to secure negative swab test results from different sources here.
Investigation is ongoing to identify the people behind the production of these fake documents.
Republic Act No. 11332, or the law on mandatory reporting of notifiable diseases, penalizes the tampering of records and providing false information. Violators are fined P20,000 to P50,000 or imprisoned for one to six months, or both, on the discretion of the court.
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