By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The provincial government of Negros Occidental is warning travelers entering the province not to fake COVID-19 test results.
This comes after the Bacolod City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) confirmed that several individuals bound for the city were intercepted for presenting fake reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results.
Provincial Incident Management Team (PIMT) head, Dr. Zeaphard Caelian, said as per the provincial government’s new travel protocols, travelers are required to submit a negative RT-PCR test result at least 72 hours prior to travel.
The PIMT confirmed that some travelers are presenting expired RT-PCR test results.
Caelian explained that it is impossible for travelers to fake their RT-PCR test result as it features several security features such as QR code, and every document is validated with the molecular laboratory which conducted the test itself.
Meanwhile, provincial administrator, Atty. Rayfrando Diaz, confirmed the reports, pointing out they have received information that the fake RT-PCR documents were being sold for at least P900 in Metro Manila.
Diaz said anyone caught presenting a fake RT-PCR test result can face charges of falsification of public documents.
Under Article 171 in relation to Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code, the crime of falsification of public documents can carry a six-year jail sentence if found guilty.
Earlier this week, Dr. Chris Sorongon, deputy for medical of the Bacolod EOC, revealed that several travelers bound for Bacolod City have reportedly been intercepted by authorities after they allegedly used fake RT-PCR tests in order to enter the city.
Sorongon said they have already referred the incidents to the City Legal Office which will conduct an investigation.
He said they monitored the fake swab test results after the city and the province of Negros Occidental started implementing the S-Pass System, which gives travelers the approved travel coordination permits.
All individuals including locally stranded individuals, returning overseas Filipinos, returning overseas Filipino workers and authorized persons outside of residence are required to present a negative RT-PCR test result at least 72 hours prior to travel.
Travelers entering the city are also required to register via the BacTrac System for contact tracing purposes.
Sorongon also warned travelers outside Western Visayas to avoid using fake RT-PCR test results as they always contact the laboratories involved in the testing./DGB, WDJ