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MANLA – The One Stop Shop (OSS) on Tuesday denied allegations that returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were forced to use expensive private reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test providers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“Hindi po ito totoo (This is not true),” the OSS media statement read.

The OSS is joint initiative of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and its attached agency, Office of Transportation Security (OTS).

It was set up inside the NAIA terminals to assist land-based and sea-based OFWs, non-OFWs/tourists, and locally stranded individuals as they return to the country and their respective provinces amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

The OSS, headed by DOTr-Office of Transportation Security (DOTr-OTS) administrator Raul Del Rosario, said the RT-PCR tests administered to the returning OFWs are paid for by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

“Hindi kailangang magbayad ng OFW ng kahit na magkano para sa Covid-19 test (OFWs do not have to pay any amount for a Covid-19 test,” it said, adding results are released within two to three days.

For non-OFWs, two private laboratories are available at the NAIA, Philippine Airlines (PAL) and its laboratory partner Detoxicare at Terminal 2, and Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions Inc. (PAGSS) and its laboratory partner Laboratory Ph Airport Diagnostic Lab at Terminals 1 and 3, it added.

Both private laboratories, according to the OSS, started operations on July 27 and charging PHP4,000 per swab test and results come also within two days.

"Lahat ng transaksyon sa mga pribadong laboratoryo ay mayroong official receipts, properly accounted, naka-record at inire-report sa OSS (All transactions of private laboratories have official receipts, properly accounted, recorded, and reported to the OSS),” the OSS said.

The OSS admitted that some OFWs do avail of private testing in emergency cases to receive results more quickly, after getting clearance from the OWWA and reported it to the OSS.

“May mga extreme na kaso, gaya ng pagkamatay ng isang kapamilya o emergency medical condition, atbp., kung kailan nagre-request ang OFWs ng swab test sa PAL o PAGSS para mapabilis ang pag-isyu ng resulta at clearance (There are extreme cases, such as the death of a loved one or an emergency medical condition, where OFWs request testing with PAL or PAGSS to accelerate the issuance of their test results and clearance),” it said.

The OSS asked OFWs who experienced being forced or encouraged to take expensive private Covid-19 tests to report the incident to the OSS for further investigation.

Philippine Red Cross (PRC) chairman and Senator Richard Gordon earlier alleged that a non-government organization has been allowed to administer RT-PCR tests at NAIA for as much as PHP20,000 per test, a far cry from the PRC’s PHP3,500 per test.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency on Tuesday, PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said Covid-19 test price has been fixed at PHP4,000 since October 16, lower than its previous price of PHP4,600 and the results are released within 24 hours.

"PAL does not handle swab testing of OFW passengers. So for our OFW passengers, we direct them to the government (testing) booths," she said. (PNA)