MIAA limits NAIA arrivals anew after PRC stops COVID-19 swab testing

Marje Pelayo   •   October 22, 2020   •   866

MANILA, Philippines – The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has once again cut down the number of arrivals at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as a consequence of the Philippine Red Cross’ decision to stop its swab testing service to returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Thousands of repatriated OFWs remain in quarantine facilities in Metro Manila, desperately waiting for the results of their swab tests.

One of them is Harlene Gariando who used to work as a household worker in Singapore but after a conflict with her employer, she decided to return home on October 18.

It has been four days since she arrived but until today, she is not certain as to when she will be able to get her swab test result.

Madali na po sana ang resulta para kami pong mga naghihintay dito ay makauwi na rin sa aming mga mahal sa buhay [We hope the result would come out soon so we could go home to our families],” she said.

Sana malaman po kaagad ng maaga kasi para hindi rin po nagaalala yung mga mahal namin sa buhay rin po [The results should be made available soon so our families will not worry],” she added.

MIAA General Manager Eddie Monreal said they have to minimize the number of arrivals once again to make sure that the government’s One-Stop-Shop will be able to accommodate all returning OFWs.

“Ang challenge po ay nasa One Stop Shop being manned by Coast Guard and pagdating nung mga kababayan natin limitado po ang kapasidad ngayon sa pagte-test [The challenge now is with the One-Stop-Shop being manned by the Coast Guard because the swab testing at present is limited as compared to the arriving OFWs],” Monreal said.

“As far as the airport is concern, kami po sa paliparan wala po kaming nakikitang problema except for those reduction po na maapektuhan ang pagparating ng ating mga kababayan [As far as the airport is concerned, we don’t have any problem except for the arriving OFWs who will be affected by the reduction of flights],” he added.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), meanwhile, is trying to replicate the process of the PRC when it comes to swab testing, one is to allow online registration prior to the OFWs return flight.

Kasi iyong E-CIF di ba bago pa pumunta dito sa Pilipinas, three days before nirerequire na natin noon in coordination with the Red Cross na magpirma na nung CIF [The process with E-CIF, three days before they arrive in the Philippines they are required to sign a CIF with Red Cross],” explained Commodore Armand Balilo, PCG’s Spokesperson.

Para pagdating dito dere-derecho ang pila. Pupunta lang sa counter ng Coast Guard tapos isa-swab [So when they arrive, they just fall in line. They just go straight to the Coast Guard’s counter and there they will be swabbed],” he added.

At present, the PCG has partnered with 12 government hospitals to where the specimens of OFW are forwarded.

The agency also employed more IT personnel to speed up the encoding of data. 

PCG explained that OFWs may request to speed up the processing of their swab tests. They may either pay P3,5000 to the PRC or they may prefer to have their swab test taken in private hospitals but they have to pay as much as P10,000 for it.

The PCG is hoping that the PRC will resume its service the soonest especially with the expected surge of returning OFWs by the end of the year. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

Duterte orders probe into PRC’s ‘false positive’ COVID-19 test results

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday directed the Department of Health (DOH) to look into complaints of ‘false positive’ COVID-19 test results from the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

During his pre-recorded Talk to the People address, the president said he has received reports of numerous false-positive cases from PRC laboratories.

He cited that 44 out of 49 or 89.79 percent of total hospital personnel who tested positive in PRCs molecular laboratory turned out negative when retested in another laboratory.

Duterte further reported that 187 out of 213 personnel of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) tested positive in the PRC Manila laboratory but tested negative in their confirmatory test.

The President also claimed that personnel of the Department of Finance (DOF) likewise had cases of false-positives from PRC.

Duterte criticized Senator Richard Gordon and asked about the veracity of the number of COVID-19 cases in the country given that there are false positive cases.

“Because of this information, then maybe the DOH must investigate the matter.  You could be putting people at risk. You could be falsely adding to the total positive cases per day of this country,” he added.

Duterte also accused the senator of diverting his pork barrel funds to the PRC. The president reported that the PRC has an audit of P86,815,433.24 attributed to Gordon. The President said he also wants an investigation to be conducted on the matter.

“Gusto ko malaman, tumanggap ka ba ng P88 million sa Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) mo? Pinarking mo ba ang PDAF  mo so you co-mingle it with money of the Red Cross and Congress iyong nakuha mo? Now, the money is lost forever, it cannot be accounted for, if this is true,” Duterte said. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

PRC says ‘blood processing fee’ ordered by gov’t; maintains blood is free

Marje Pelayo   •   September 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Red Cross maintains it is not charging any amount for the blood itself when anyone needs it.

The agency stressed it is only charging patients for the “blood processing fee.”

The PRC on Thursday (September 16) issued a statement following the tirades of President Rodrigo Duterte during his Talk to the People earlier in the day questioning why the humanitarian organization is collecting fees for blood even if these are donated by volunteer donors.

In its Twitter account, the PRC Blood Services issued an infographics explaining the need for raw blood to be processed before it is stored for donation.

The PRC stressed that the collected blood in itself is given for free but the agency cited that it can charge for a certain amount as mandated by the Department of Health (DOH) Order 2015-0045.

“Nangongolekta ng blood processing fee para ilaan sa mga serbisyo at operasyon tulad ng donor recruitment, education, collection, blood testing, preparasyon ng blood products, at iba pang proseso upang masigurong ligtas ang dugong isasalin,” the PRC said in the statement.

“Sa madaling salita, ang blood processing fee ay naaayon sa polisiya ng Department of Health for cost recovery,” it added.

Also, the PRC explained that during blood donation, they have to ensure that high quality blood bags are used; effective ‘reagents’ are checked; and the collected blood is processed according to different blood components (platelets, frozen plasma, red and white blood cells, etc.).

Additionally, the PRC offers a way to waive the processing fee if the patient is an indigent.

In its post, the agency showed how much they collect for blood processing fee:

Whole blood – P1,000

Packed Red Blood Cells – P1,500

Platelet Concentrate – P1,000

Plasma – P1,000

Duterte orders SolGen to ask COA to audit PH Red Cross

Marje Pelayo   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered Solicitor General Jose Calida to write to Commission on Audit (COA) chair Michael Aguinaldo requesting an audit of the Philippine Red Cross’ (PRC) financial records.

“I am ordering SolGen, si Calida, to write [COA chief] Aguinaldo a letter. Ask Aguinaldo to immediately conduct an audit diyan sa Red Cross. Ang hinihintay ko lang, the next step would really be the letter to be delivered by COA,” the President said during his pre-taped public address aired on Thursday (September 16).

The PRC is led by Senator Richard Gordon, who chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon committee that is investigating the government’s use of pandemic funds.

The Chief Executive once again slammed  Gordon for the latter’s Senate probe into the government’s purchase of alleged overpriced medical goods last year.

Duterte had previously accused Gordon of using the PRC as his ‘milking cow’ in his previous election campaigns which led to a call for an audit of the humanitarian organization.

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