A party-list lawmaker on Tuesday urged the government to provide free reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for stranded passengers and drivers of public utility vehicles.
Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin said funding for the free RT-PCR testing can be sourced from the revenues of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).
“Recalling the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte that Pagcor will be focused more on funding public health programs, I appeal to Malacañang, the Department of Finance, and the Department of Transportation to work with Pagcor to channel some of their gambling revenues toward provision of free RT-PCR Covid testing to all persons stranded in seaports, airports, and transport terminals,” Garbin said.
Garbin said some Pantawid Pasada funds from the Public Transport Assistance Program could also be tapped to pay for vaccines and Covid-19 testing for jeepney and bus drivers and conductors in Metro Manila.
“Please include in the free RT-PCR testing the drivers and passengers of the UV Express and buses allowed to take provincial routes like those going to and coming from Bicol,” he said.
He recalled a report that nearly 80 passengers of colorum vehicles going to the Bicol Region from the National Capital Region tested positive for Covid-19 last week.
He also stressed that Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators continued despite community quarantines since last year.
“That should mean revenues for Pagcor and with that income, Pagcor 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 to the provinces,” Garbin said. (PNA)