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Friday, October 22, 2021
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Lazatin wants probe on alleged profiteering, illegal Covid-19 swabbing referrals

ANGELES City Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin, Jr. has asked the Department of Health (DOH), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Angeles City Council to conduct a full-blown investigation on the alleged profiteering bourne out of the "illegal" referrals of suspected Covid-19 patients by Barangay Malabanias officials to a private clinic not licensed to perform community swab testing.

The Angeles City Government received reports from a concerned citizen that Barangay Malabanias officials referred 12 suspected Covid-19 patients to the Jongno East Medical Center Inc. located on Mabini Street, Friendship Highway of the same village for swab testing.

Each test costs P6,500 per person.

Jongno East Medical Center Inc. is a DOH-licensed infirmary hospital but is not authorized to conduct community reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests or swab testing.

The family allegedly reported to Barangay Malabanias officials that they were exposed to a relative, who was confirmed to be coronavirus-positive.

The barangay allegedly sent the purok leader named "Noel" to the house of the exposed family, who then told them that “the City Government is not offering a free swab test.”

They were told by Purok Leader Noel that, “walang libre ang Angeles City Government and they need to pay P6,500,” a family member told City Health Officer Dr. Verona Gueverra during an interview.

The family was allegedly coordinating with a certain "Maricris" from Barangay Malabanias, who referred the family to the Jongno East Medical Center Inc.

The said referrals violated the City Government's protocol for suspected Covid-19 patients.

Under the protocol, the Barangay Council, thru their health workers should coordinate with the City Health Office (CHO) once their constituent/s manifests Covid-19 symptoms, or have close contact with positive patients.

CHO through the help of the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team will conduct contact tracing.

It is the City Government that will determine who will be quarantined or those who will be subjected to the RT-PCR test, said Verona.

Swab testing is shouldered for free by the City Government.

Upon learning of the said report, Lazatin formed a team composed of members of the Angeles City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, CHO and Angeles City Police Office led by his Chief Adviser and Tactician Director IC Calaguas and Executive Assistant IV Reina Manuel to confirm the veracity of the reports.

The team immediately went to the house of the exposed family, who were then being prepared for PCR testing by the staff of Jongno East Medical Center, Inc.

Lazatin reported to the DOH of the illegal community RT-PCR test being conducted by Jongno East Medical Center Inc.

The mayor issued a warning to all officials of the 33 barangays to refrain from making referrals to private centers and abide by the safety and health protocols set by the City Government.

He said he will not tolerate any unlawful activity in the city, especially by officials who are supposed to be the first to implement and follow protocols.

"Hindi po natin ito-tolerate ang anumang panloloko sa aking mga kababayan, lalo na ngayong panahon ng pandemya," Lazatin said.


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