News Release

Gov’t to provide ordinary travellers with free COVID-19 testing

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members prior to his talk to the people at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on December 7, 2020. KING RODRIGUEZ/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wants the government to provide free coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing especially for those who cannot afford expensive coronavirus screening procedures.

In his weekly public address Monday night, President Duterte said he would talk to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. on how to come up with a cheaper COVID-19 testing for travellers or for those returning to their home provinces.

“Ang problema noon in the early days ang sa airport which was really a mandatory thing for me na nagpunta doon,” he said.

“So ‘yung iba, tamang-tama lang ‘yung pera especially the marginalized — I mean is ‘yung tamang-tama lang, mga estudyante. So pam-pamasahe pauwi airport, they are really — contend with the extra expenses.”

The President said he would look for money to fund the free testing, which he said will be available in all government hospitals or health centers. He wants the Department of Health (DOH) to come up with a program in the first or second quarter of next year.

In his meeting with the President, Secretary Duque said the government was able to set a price range for COVID-19 testing in accordance with President Duterte’s executive order issued last month.

In private laboratories, COVID-19 testing ranges from P4,500 to P5,000. In government laboratories, testing rate is at P3,800, according to the Health chief.

“At ang PhilHealth naman ay patuloy na nagbabayad. Ang pinakamataas pong bayad ng PhilHealth is P3,409. So maliit na lang po ‘yung idadagdag iyong out of pocket parang 400 pesos na lang po,” he told the President.

For those who will be tested positive for the virus, the President wants vacant hotels to accommodate them.

“I’ll leave it to the city government and we will talk about it later. Itong mga hotel na bakante tutal pagkatapos niyan, you can always decontaminate the rooms,” he said.

“We will do it for you. Arrange with the hotels na puwede mo munang gamitin lalo na sa panahon na ito.”

President Duterte appealed to hotel owners to help their fellow Filipinos in this time of national emergency, adding he would ask lawmakers to come up with legislation in order for hotels to get the appropriate compensation. PND