Six tourists were arrested on Monday in Boracay after they allegedly submitted fake negative COVID-19 swab tests to the authorities.
The group, who arrived on the island on Dec. 5, was sent on a 14-day quarantine after it was found out that only one of them submitted a genuine RT-PCR test. Malay police chief Lt. Col. Jonathan Pablito said the six will face charges of falsification of public documents and for violating Republic Act No. 1332, a law that requires Filipinos to report contagious diseases.
An official of Malay, which has jurisdiction over the island, told The Philippine Daily Inquirer that five people copied the genuine test result and submitted it to the government. The lab that produced the genuine test result has already said that the five were not its clients and that the only person they tested was the one who submitted the authentic RT-PCR certification.
All tourists entering Boracay are required to present negative RT-PCR results before being allowed to enter. The island was reopened in October after scores of businesses suffered losses due to the travel restrictions brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Tourism has condemned the incident, with Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat saying in a statement that such acts “will not be condoned as they undermine the collaborative efforts at protecting and reviving Boracay tourism.”
The Tourism Department announced last week that it would subsidize RT-PCR tests of all Boracay tourists to encourage more people to visit the island. The test, to be administered by the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, costs PHP1,800 (US$37.42) each, cheaper than the standard kit that’s priced at about PHP3,500 (US$72).