BORACAY ISLAND, Malay, Aklan–“Our desire to proceed with our lives in the new normal should not be at the expense of other people.”
This was the statement of Valenzuela 1st District Rep. Weslie Gatchalian in introducing his proposed measure calling for stiffer penalties for individuals falsifying any form of coronavirus test results.
House Bill No. 8643, amending Republic Act No. 11332, is likely to push the penalty for tampering or intentional provision of misinformation to P1 million from P50,000, and from six months imprisonment to maximum prision mayor.
RA 11332 otherwise known as the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Concern Act was enacted in 2018.
“Some people are opting to falsify their test results and, worse, visitors with fake COVID-19 results are testing positive for the virus, putting the community at great risk,” Gatchalian said.
Fake test results are not new to Boracay; from October of last year to February 14, 122 forgeries were presented by visitors to the island.
Last week alone, eight tourists were arrested on the island after authorities discovered their COVID-19 test results were apparently falsified.
They will be charged for unlawfully using forged documents as pre-entry requirements to Boracay Island. The arrested tourists were brought to the Aklan Training Center in Kalibo to serve a mandatory quarantine period.
October 2020 was when Boracay reopened to domestic tourists, and travel restrictions mean tourists must upload to the Aklan province online portal their negative test results and confirmed hotel bookings before they can be issued a quick response (QR) code by the Aklan provincial validating team.
Without a QR code, they cannot be granted entry into the island resort. /(Boy Ryan Zabal/iNews-Aklan/Boracay Bureau)