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DOT’s 50% RT-PCR test subsidy may last only until August due to depleted funds

By Lorenzo Santos Published Jun 28, 2021 10:29 pm

Department of Tourism (DoT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat is eyeing the extension of the RT-PCR test subsidy until July or August with the University of the Philippines Philippine General Hospital (UP PGH), depending on the funds available.

“We hope it will be extended, but of course this is up to the funds available,” Puyat said. She added that the DOT’s TPB (Tourism Board of the Philippines) is in talks to extend the agreement with UP PGH in Manila and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) in Quezon City.

“But based on our calculations, because so many people have availed of the subsidy, baka umabot lang ito ng July to August 2021,” she said during the Laging Handa briefing today.

Romulo-Puyat confirmed that as of June 23, 43,351 applications have availed of the 50% subsidy from January to June 2021. She added that tourists who are booked on DOT-accredited establishments are qualified for the subsidy.

The subsidy program of the DOT has a budget of P35.17 million. From January to June 2021, UP-PGH and PCMC were set to receive P9.99 million and P8.70 million respectively.

DOT wants other accredited hospitals to match the rate of RT-PCR tests of government hospitals from P1,800 to P900 for PGH and from P1500 to P750 for PCMC.

“Ang gusto lang namin sana ma-match nila (accredited hospitals) like for example for UP PGH at PCMC. They are both government hospitals. As long as mabigyan kami ng same rate, walang problema. Dahil sa UP PGH na 50% (subsidized) swab, ang babayaran na lang ng magbabyahe ay P900; sa PCMC naman, ang babayaran na lamang ay P750,” Romulo-Puyat said.

DOT is negotiating with the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) for fully vaccinated tourists to skip RT –PCR testing on their domestic travel.

“Ang pinag-uusapan (with IATF) ay kung fully vaccinated naman, baka hindi na kailangan mag RT-PCR,” Romulo-Puyat said.

Though not subsidized, the Philippine Red Cross is offering swab and saliva testing at a lower cost than private clinics and hospitals that people may also use as a travel rquirement.