In a new statement by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on 27 Oct 2020, the government body clarified that RT-PCR tests for OFWs, or Overseas Filipino Workers, are still free of charge. This is after allegations have spread online about the latter “being made to utilize” private test providers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
“The RT-PCR test of OFWs are being shouldered by government. OFWs need not spend any amount for the COVID-19 test since the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) covers this expense,” DOTr said in the official Facebook post. “The result of the test normally takes about two (2) to three (3) days.”
Also read: COVID-19 Philippines Travel Advisory for Filipinos & Foreign Visitors
Private RT-PCR tests for OFWs allowed only in special cases
In the same announcement, the DOTr reminded that private laboratories are available for non-OFWs. “For non-OFWs, there are two (2) private laboratories that cater to the RT-PCR test. The first is the Philippine Airline (PAL) and its partner Laboratory, Detoxicare for [NAIA] Terminal 2. The other is with Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions, Inc. (PAGSS) with partner Laboratory Ph Airport Diagnostic Lab for Terminal 1 and 3.”
Covered by a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Task Group on Management of Returning Oversease Filipinos (TG MROF), the two laboratories charge a fee of ₱4,000 per person. Results are available within 48 hours. All related transactions are then “properly accounted, recorded and reported with the One Stop Shop (OSS).”
In the case of an emergency, however, RT-PCR tests for OFWs may be allowed under PAL or PAGSS because of the faster turnaround. However, they’ll first have to obtain a clearance from OWWA. “Should you be coerced or forcibly asked to use the services of the private laboratories, we ask that you kindly report the incident to the OSS so that appropriate action may be taken,” added the DOTr.
All images credit to Philippine Coast Guard | Official Facebook Page