THE National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI 7) is preparing to file several charges against the two men arrested recently for selling fake swab test results, mostly to travelers bound for Bohol.
NBI 7 Regional Director Renan Oliva on Friday, March 19, 2021, said charges of estafa through falsification of public document and violation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 were being prepared against Rogelio Sumalinog Nebres and Rakim Sultan Busara.
Oliva said the two suspects underwent inquest proceedings on Friday.
Both men allegedly produce documents with a negative RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test result, using the standard laboratory test result form of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) subnational molecular biology laboratory.
VSMMC Chief Gerardo Aquino Jr. expressed alarm over the illegal activity as he noted that the fake document bears the hospital’s logo.
“Totally unacceptable,” Aquino said in a statement issued Friday, March 19, 2021.
“We would like to state that we do not condone such activities. We are dismayed by these unscrupulous acts conducted by these individuals, which (have) tarnished the hard-earned reputation of VSMMC’s Subnational Laboratory,” he added.
Aquino said they were taking legal action against the suspects and were coordinating with the NBI 7 in expediting the case.
Aquino also urged the public to stay vigilant and undergo RT-PCR tests for the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) only in accredited laboratories.
“We would like to reiterate that we should put a stop to the propagation of these activities by not patronizing these individuals and be tested only in accredited Covid-19 laboratories,” he said.
He further urged the public to report such illegal activities.
“We need the public’s cooperation and vigilance so that no individual can take advantage of this pandemic to carry out their illegal motives,” Aquino added.
Oliva said Nebres was arrested in Pier 1 while Busara was arrested in his shop along Colon St., Cebu City.
He said both men edit the standard laboratory test result form from the VSMMC to reflect the name of their client and a negative test result for only P1,500, half of the P3,000 minimum cost of an RT-PCR test in an accredited private laboratory.
The fake document is produced in less than an hour, just a fraction of the time that it will take for the VSMMC and other accredited laboratories to collect a nasopharyngeal sample and test this for the virus.
Most of the laboratories release test results in 24 to 48 hours.
Oliva said their investigation showed that most of those who secure fake test results are travelers bound for Tubigon town and Tagbilaran City, both in Bohol.
He said travelers should prepare their travel requirements ahead of their trips.
“We should prepare our travel requirements rather than complying with these at the last minute. These requirements were imposed to detect those who are positive for the virus,” Oliva said.
Bohol still requires inbound travelers to present a negative RT-PCR test result within 72 hours prior to departure.
In his latest executive order, Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap also said a negative RT-PCR saliva test will be honored.
Yap, however, has dropped the requirements for quarantine and repeat test unless the traveler manifests symptoms of Covid-19.
A medical certificate and a Task Force Covid Shield travel authority are also no longer required, although local government unit confirmation must still be presented. (ANV)