SENATOR and chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher “Bong” Go issued a stern reminder to all hospitals, testing laboratories and other healthcare providers to comply with the price range for COVID-19 tests and test kits that will be identified by the government authorities led by the Department of Health and Department of Trade and Industry.
“Dapat silang sumunod at parusahan ang dapat paparusahan diyan kapag hindi sila sumunod. Uulitin ko, hindi ito ‘yung panahon ng pananamantala sa ating mga kababayan. Naghihirap ang ating mga kababayan. Tumulong kayo, ‘yun na ang magiging kontribusyon ninyo. Huwag ninyo pong gawing negosyo ang kalusugan ng bawat Pilipino,” Go said during an interview after distributing assistance to fire victims in Caloocan City on Friday, November 6.
On November 4, President Rodrigo Duterte had signed Executive Order No. 118 which directed the DOH and DTI to determine, formulate and implement a just and equitable price range for COVID-19 tests and test kits. They were also ordered to monitor and review the prices and market supply of COVID-19 tests as well as to issue appropriate price control measures and adjustments if necessary.
Go warned unscrupulous business entities against taking advantage of the pandemic in order to jack up the prices of testing services.
“Alam ninyo na importante ‘yung COVID-19 testing. Eh pinagsasamantalahan ninyo pa ang sitwasyon ng ating mga kababayan. Naghahanap na nga ng libre ang ating mga kababayan. Kaya nga may [Philippine Health Insurance Corporation] tayo para magbayad sa mga COVID-19 testing,” said Go.
“Tapos ngayon, taking advantage of the situation naman kayo dahil sa pangangailangan ng mga kababayan natin. Hindi po puwede ‘yon! Pananagutin namin kayo,” he vowed.
DOH and DTI are looking at possible imposition of certain penalties, ranging from fines to imprisonment or both for erring individuals, manufacturers, importers, traders, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, healthcare providers or licensed COVID-19 testing laboratories.
In another interview in San Pablo City, Laguna on November 7 after Go led the distribution of assistance to residents affected by the recent Typhoon Rolly, the Senator also urged the government to work closely with private institutions and other healthcare providers to ensure continued and unhampered COVID-19 testing services.
“Ang atin naman is walang maantala na serbisyo. Eh sa ngayon po talagang kailangan natin ‘yong testing. So ni-isang panahon na maantala eh hindi po dapat. Ang importante rito is magtulungan, mga pribadong institusyon, Red Cross, gobyerno, PhilHealth, magtulungan, mabayaran, tuluy-tuloy po ‘yung serbisyo at hindi po maantala,” Go emphasized.
On a different note, the Senator acknowledged that many Filipinos are preparing to return to their provinces for the holiday season. Anticipating an influx of passengers in airports, bus stations and ports, Go reminded Filipinos to strictly comply with the government-issued health and safety protocols whilst traveling.
“Wala pong dapat na magkumpiyansa sa atin sa panahong ito dahil habang nandidiyan ang COVID-19, delikado pa po tayo. Kaya sumunod muna tayo sa gobyerno,” he said.
“Mag-social distancing, magsuot ng mask at face shield, hugas ng kamay, at kung hindi po kailangan huwag muna kayong lumabas ng inyong mga pamamahay dahil delikado pa po ang panahon,” he continued.
Go expressed agreement with the findings of a study by the OCTA Research Group which stated that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country has not sufficiently dropped.
“Totoo ‘yung sinabi ng OCTA, delikado pa. Let’s not be complacent sa situation dahil nandidiyan pa ang COVID. Hindi pa nawawala ang COVID-19,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Go urged the government to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the eventual vaccine for COVID-19. He reiterated the President’s commitment to prioritize poor and vulnerable sectors once it is available.
“Pag safe na according sa Food and Drug Administration at World Health Organization. At magkakaroon naman tayo ng mga clinical trials being conducted by the Department of Science and Technology ngayon dito sa ating bansa,” began Go.
“Pag mayroon na talagang safe, uunahin namin ni Pangulong Duterte lahat ng mahihirap at ‘yung mga vulnerable, lalong-lalo na po ‘yung mga walang access, walang pambili ng vaccine para unti-unti na tayong makabalik sa normal nating pamumuhay,” he continued.