PRC’s plan to halt COVID-19 test on PhilHealth patients won’t affect OFWs — PCG

Maris Federez   •   August 18, 2020   •   185

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) assures the public that COVID-19 testing for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) will continue even if the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) decides to temporarily stop accepting PhilHealth patients.

The PCG said the expenses that arriving OFWs will incur in undergoing COVID-19 testing are paid for by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

This means that even if the PRC temporarily stops accepting PhilHealth patients due to the latter’s balance amounting to more than P700-million, the said testing will not be stopped.

PCG spokesperson Commodore Armando Balilo added that based on their record, more than 145,000 OFWs have been processed for COVID-19 by the PRC.

He, however, expressed concern over PCG personnel who are assigned to assist OFWs during COVID-19 testing. They also undergo testing and depend on Philhealth benefits for the test.

“Ang maaapektuhan lang siguro dito kaming mga Philhealth members na Coast Guard na mga frontliners na regularly nagpapa-swab sa Philippine Red Cross […] Hindi ito magiging problema pagdating doon sa trabaho namin sapagkat yung OWWA ang nagpi-finance ng mga OFW,” PCG spokesperson Commodore Armando Balilo said.

The PRC and PhilHealth entered a 900 million peso-worth Memorandum of Agreement for a mobilization fund with an advance of P100-million.

The House of Representative had a lengthy discussion about this on Monday’s hearing.

“Kung talagang meron silang mobilization fund na 100 million bakit nung mag testing ang PNRC o ang Red Cross, bakit pinagbabayad pa yung mga kababayan natin tinetesting? Hindi ba maliwanag naman na bayad na yun?” asked Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta.

“The Philhealth will only pay for those tests that falls under the wage protocol those people that covered under the expanded targeted testing. So if a person does not fall in that particular category they will have to pay out of pocket,” PhilHealth SVP for Legal, Atty. Rodolfo Del Rosario, explained.—(from the report of Rey Pelayo) /mbmf

PRC’s decision to stop swab testing affects returning OFWs

Marje Pelayo   •   October 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III admits that the decision of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to stop conducting swab tests due to PhilHealth’s unsettled bills with them have greatly affected the returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

PhilHealth’s outstanding bill with PRC has already amounted to P930-billion.

Bello said around 4,000 overseas Filipino workers have been stranded in the quarantine hotels they are currently billeted. And the longer they stay in these hotels, the greater the burden on the government that is shouldering the expenses in these hotels.

In the past, the DOLE had been able to send home up to 3,000 OFWs daily after undergoing swab tests and quarantine. To date, it can only send home around 300 OFWs every day.

“They are staying longer. While before they can stay for 3 to four days, now they already stay beyond one week and that’s our problem. There are expenses in taking care of our OFWs. So the sooner the issue of payment is resolved, the better for the OFWs and the better for the finances of our government,” Bello said.

The DOLE chief is hoping that the PhilHealth-PRC issue will be resolved as around 100,000 more OFWs are due to be repatriated before the year ends.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is asking the returning OFWs for their cooperation and patience for the delay of the issuance of result of their swab tests.

PCG Spokesperson Commodore Armando Balilo said they have returned to manually encoding the information of these returning OFWs.

“So pagdating po sa airport, katulad ng dati, imbis na CIF po na pinifill-upan bago po dumating dito na sa website ng red cross, e ngayon po iniinterview namin isa-isa yung mga OFW at kinukunan ng background. At pagkatapos po nun, kinukunan ng swab test, maging yun pong dati na mga specimen po ay nilalagyan na rin ng manual na pangalan at kung kelan na swab di katulad ng dati na bar code,” said Balilo.

This, Balilo said, is why it is taking the process up to four to five days rather than finishing it in just one day following PRC’s decision.

Despite this, Balilo said there are now 12 hospitals that will accept and process the RT-PCR tests of OFWs.

“Magiging capacity po sa isang araw po kaya po ng mga 4,000 hanggang 4,500 po na iti-test,” he said.

Balilo added that the PCG will augment its personnel to lessen the delay due to the manual encoding.

The official also said they are finding ways to return to automation or electronic process encoding of individual information.

“On our part, nagpadala na po kami ng mga tauhan ng mga IT personnel para po magaya natin kung ano man ang sistema na pina-iiral ng Red Cross at sa loob po ng lalong madaling panahon ay maresolba natin itong delay,” Balilo said.

No need for testing, quarantine for Pinoys from countries with low COVID-19 cases — DOH

UNTV News   •   October 20, 2020

Filipinos returning from countries with low coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases no longer need to undergo quarantine and testing, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued classification on different prevalence levels of each country for the department to determine which countries have low COVID-19 cases.

“For those low to medium prevalence countries na may COVID-19, kapag dumating ang mga OFWs dito maaari nang hindi na muna i-test. Mag-comply ng minimum health standards, they can go back to their provinces, (For those with low to medium prevalence countries with COVID-19, OFWs from those areas no longer need to be tested. Just comply with the minimum health standards and they can go back to their provinces),” Vergeire said.

However, the Health Department reiterates that Filipinos who return to their provinces still need to follow the minimum health standards and symptoms monitoring implemented in the area. Vergeire said the local government units (LGUs) will be in charge of monitoring their condition and COVID-19 testing, if necessary.

It is also under the LGUs mandate to test individuals entering their areas to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Whatever the local governments would require for them to enter into their province, they have to comply,” Vergeire said.

She added LGUs have their own guidelines for domestic travelers, including those who are coming from areas with high COVID-19 cases, such as the National Capital Region. -AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Baguio City, tatanggap na ng turista mula Metro Manila, iba pang panig ng Luzon simula Oct. 23

Robie de Guzman   •   October 20, 2020

Simula sa Biyernes, Oktubre 23 ay maaari nang bumisita sa Baguio City ang mga turistang magmumula sa Metro Manila pati na sa Cagayan Valley at Central Luzon.

Ayon sa lokal na pamahalaan ng Baguio City, layunin nito na muling pasiglahin ang industriya ng turismo at iba pang sektor na malubhang naapektuhan ng coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Paalala ng mga otoridad sa mga bibisita, sumunod sa health protocols at iba pang panuntunan upang maiwasan ang pagkalat ng COVID-19.

Ang mga bibisita sa lungsod ay kailangang dumaan sa mahigpit na screening process.

Obligado rin silang mag-register online sa pamamagitan ng Visitors Information and Travel Assistance (VISITA) website, at magkaroon ng confirmed booking ng accommodation at designated hotel bilang bahagi ng monitoring sa mga bisita.

Kailangan ring magpakita ang mga turista ng negative confirmatory COVID-19 test result na isinagawa bago bumiyahe.

Limitado lang sa 200 turista ang maaaring pumasok sa Baguio City kada araw.

Una nang binuksan ang turismo sa lungsod noong Oktubre 1 para sa mga bisita mula sa Ilocos Region. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Grace Doctolero)


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