OFWs in airports charged up to P20,000 for fast coronavirus test results: Red Cross

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 25 2020 11:37 AM | Updated as of Oct 25 2020 11:45 AM

A Philippine Red Cross personnel facilitates an RT-PCR swab test. Philippine Red Cross/Handout

MANILA - Filipino migrant workers stranded in the country's airports are being asked to pay up to P20,000 for immediate coronavirus tests results, the Philippine Red Cross said Sunday.

PRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said the non-government organization was allowed to enter the country's international airports in Manila, Clark, and Cebu as overseas Filipino workers have asked the Red Cross to directly facilitate their coronavirus test.

The Red Cross earlier pulled out its coronavirus testing service to government due to PhilHealth's nearly P1 billion unpaid dues.

"May nagtext sa'kin galing Washington DC. Ang sabi, ang charge sa kanya P10,000. Mukhang may nabebendisyunan doon," Gordon told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(Someone from Washington DC texted me and said he/she was charged P10,000. It seems someone there is benefitting from this.)

"Isa pa (Another one said), 'My sister paid P7,000 to get the results in 24 hours. Naghintay siya (she waited) beyond 24 hours and got it only after she expressed her rage... For 12 hours, it costs P10,000, and for 6 hours, it costs P20,000.'"

Some 6,000 repatriates are stranded in Metro Manila because of the testing delay as a result of the halted PRC service, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier said as the Philippine Coast Guard switched to manual encoding.

The embattled state insurer has said it would pay its debt to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) on Monday.

"Nagugulat ako dyan kay Atty. (Dante) Gierran dahil kilala kong tao yan eh. Pero mukhang di makadesisyon, natatakot. Ewan ko kung kanino siya natatakot. Alam ko, matapang naman siya. Ang nakikita ko, baka may sinususian," Gordon said of the new PhilHealth chief who ordered a review of the agency's partnership with the PRC.

(I'm surprised about Atty. Gierran because I know him. But now, he seems undecided and scared. I don't know who he's scared of because I know he's brave. Maybe someone is being manipulated.)

Gierran took over PhilHealth leadership after its former president, Ricardo Morales, resigned at the height of allegations of corruption in the agency. An iinter-agency task force created to investigate alleged anomalies at the PhilHealth has filed criminal complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against Morales and several other agency officials.

"Ang nakikita ko lang, Atty. Gierran, kung nakikinig kayo, meron akong nakukuhang text ngayon. Kami, wala sa airport. Ngayon na lang kami pumasok sa airport dahil maraming gustong magbayad nang direkta sa'min dahil maraming namamahalan at natatagalan."

(All I know, Atty. Gierran, if you're listening, is I'm receiving text messages. We were not at the airport. We have just started getting in because many want to transact directly with us because they are being overcharged and are waiting for too long for coronavirus test results.)

PhilHealth and PRC entered into a multi-million peso agreement in May this year where the latter was to conduct a massive COVID-19 testing program charging PhilHealth P3,500 for each test.

Watch more in iWantTFC