While the Philippines already has a law that penalizes the act of falsifying their health records, for Deputy Speaker and Valenzuela Representative Wes Gatchalian, that isn’t enough.
That’s why on Monday, Gatchalian filed House Bill No. 8643, which puts “stiffer punishments” in place against persons who are proven to have falsified their COVID-19 test results.
The bill improves on Republic Act No. 11332, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act. Under the said act, offenders only face a P20,000 to P50,000 fine or jail time of at least one to six months. Under Gatchalian’s bill, however, offenders are fined a steep P1 million and will spend time in jail for a minimum of six months and a day to up to 12 years. Both punishments are also mandatory.
“Though falsification of COVID-19 test results may seem like a trivial procedural matter to some it may actually and recklessly endanger the lives of the people these offenders may interact or come into contact with,” Gatchalian said according to a report by Inquirer.
This comes as more and more tourists attempt to present fabricated COVID-19 test results when crossing borders en route to popular travel destinations. For offenders, Boracay seems to be the destination of choice.
Last December 29, two tourists from Metro Manila were arrested in Boracay for presenting fake coronavirus test results at the Caticlan Airport.
Then, on January 21, five tourists bound to the same destination are also arrested for handing fake RT-PCR test results. Three of them later turned out to be coronavirus-positive after they were brought to Aklan’s provincial quarantine facility.
Most recently, last February 12, eight more were also arrested for committing the same, presenting falsified documents bearing the name of St. Lukes Medical Center.
Palawan has also seen its fair share of counterfeiters. Just this Tuesday, local police nabbed two female tourists at the Lio Airport. They were able to prove the crime after the QR code of the clinic that supposedly conducted their test results turned out to be invalid.
“Given how contagious and deadly the novel coronavirus is, it is only appropriate that stiffer punishments be imposed on anyone who knowingly fakes COVID-19 test results,” Gatchalian added.