THE Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration yesterday made it clear that free COVID-19 testing is available for overseas Filipino workers arriving in the country.
OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac issued the clarification amid reports that private laboratories are offering the service to arriving OFWs for a fee.
“Ito po ay libre. ‘Yung buong proseso na dini-describe ko ay libre. Nababalitaan nga po namin na may mga private laboratories daw na nandoon sa NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport),” he said.
Cacdac said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade ordered an investigation into the operation of private laboratories inside the airport.
Earlier, Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross, said that Filipinos arriving from abroad are allegedly being charged up to P20,000 for a faster release of their COVID-19 test results.
The PRC stopped processing COVID-19 tests in their laboratories as the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) failed to settle its “ever-increasing outstanding balance.”
Despite the issue between PRC and PhilHealth, Cacdac said medical technology personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard will continue collecting swab samples from OFWs as they arrive in the airport.
He added the samples will now be processed in 17 national and local laboratories.
“Tuloy po ang libreng proseso para sa kanila mula swab testing tapos processing ng specimen, hotel quarantine pati transport,” the OWWA chief reiterated.