Solon calls for free Covid-19 tests for passengers, drivers

By Connie Calipay


Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin has appealed to the national government for a free coronavirus disease (Covid-19) test for stranded passengers and public utility vehicles (PUV) drivers to help curve the increasing cases of the deadly virus in the country.


“Recalling the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte that PAGCOR will be focused more on funding public health programs, I appeal to Malacanang, the Department of Finance, and the Department of Transportation to work with PAGCOR to channel some of their gambling revenues toward provision of free real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) Covid testing to all persons stranded at the seaports, airports, and transport terminals,” Garbin said.


Garbin also wanted to include a free RT -PCR test for the drivers and passengers of the UVs, FXs, buses allowed to take provincial routes like those going to and coming from Bicol.


Last weekend, nearly 80 passengers of colorum vehicles going to Bicol region from National Capital Region (NCR) have tested positive for Covid-19, the DOTr said.


“That’s the result of no Covid-19 free test, some will make an alibi or scapegoat, but if it is free, everyone will cooperate and will take the test,” Garbin said.


He believed that since Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) operations have continued despite the different community quarantines imposed last year and this year means the its revenues should be able to subsidize 100 percent the cost of RT-PCR testing in the transport sector starting with the vehicles with provincial routes to reduce the spread of Covid-19 to the provinces.


Garbin also added that for the PUJ and PUB drivers and conductors in Metro Manila, some Pantawid Pasada funds should be used to pay for vaccines and Covid-19 testing for all of them.


“Testing and vaccinating them would effectively help suppress the spread of Covid-19,” he added.