By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — As COVID-19 infections continue to rise in the country,
Senator Win Gatchalian urged the Department of Health (DOH) and the
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to put in place mechanisms that
will oversee compliance of testing laboratories on the reduced price
cap for a real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction
(RT-PCR) or swab tests.
“Napapanahon itong ganitong hakbang lalo na’t patuloy ang pagtaas ng
bilang ng mga nahahawa ng COVID-19 dahil sa mas matinding Delta
variant at kadalasan ay pami-pamilya na ang nagkakasakit. Kung
naiimplementa nang tama at masigurong mas mababa ang presyo ng swab
test, mas mahihikayat ang marami nating kababayan, bagay na
makakatulong nang malaki sa COVID-19 response ng gobyerno,” Gatchalian
Strict monitoring of the government-mandated price cap should be
undertaken as the majority of Filipinos have been financially crippled
by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those rendered unemployed and
underemployed since last year, the senator said.
From the previous P4,500 to P5,000 price cap for private testing hubs,
the new price cap has been reduced to P2,940 to P3,360 for the private
facilities while the public testing centers’ previous P3,800 per swab
test has been set from P2,450 to P2,800. The government has set a
price cap of P1,000 for home service testing and this is on top of the
The DOH issued last August 26 Circular No. 2021-0374 on the new price
cap that took effect Monday, September 6, 2021. The last price cap was
set on November 25, 2020.
Gatchalian said it’s incumbent upon the DOH and the DTI to conduct a
regular or even a random check on the testing prices of the licensed
COVID-19 testing laboratories on their compliance with the price cap
and impose appropriate penalties.
Based on the DOH order, breaching the price cap will earn a suspension
of license to operate for 15 days for the first offense, 30 days for
the second offense, and revocation of license for the third offense.
A fine of P20,000 and P30,000 for first and second offenses
respectively will likewise be imposed on erring laboratories.
“Sa panahon ng pandemya, nais natin na maiwasan ang pananamantala ng
ilang indibidwal sa mga kababayan nating nangangailangan at
nagkakasakit dulot ng COVID-19. Mainam na masawata ang mga maling
gawaing ito lalo na’t kung makokompromiso ang kapakanan at kaligtasan
ng publiko,” Gatchalian said. (ai/mtvn)