What happens to tourists who fake their swab test results?
Under Section 9 of Republic Act 11332, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, violators are either subjected to fines of from P20,000 to P50,000, or imprisonment of one to six months, or both.
After several cases were reported of tourists forging their negative swab test results to visit Boracay Island, three of whom subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, House leaders are pushing for stiffer penalties for these offenders.
Deputy speaker and Valenzuela City representative Wes Gatchalian recently filed House Bill No. 8643, which aims to amend RA 11332 to include falsifying COVID-19 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) swab, rapid antigen or saliva test results.
Under this measure, persons convicted of falsifying test results will be imprisoned from six years and one day to 12 years, and fined P1 million.
In filing this measure, Gatchalian noted that falsifying COVID-19 test results poses a risk to the public. “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.”
He added: “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.”
Prior to the filing of this measure, the Department of Tourism (DOT) filed complaints against the six tourists who forged their swab test results to enter Boracay Island. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat added that the DOT supports the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)’s directive to arrest and prosecute tourists falsifying their test results.