Parañaque probes COVID testing of POGO workers

Ralph Edwin Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - May 30, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Parañaque City government is investigating the mass testing of around 300 Chinese workers of a Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) at an exclusive subdivision, officials said yesterday.

A Facebook user who posted photos of the event on Thursday alleged that the POGO workers were lined up at the BF Homes clubhouse.

“There were no notices, no permits from the city health office and the barangay or from the city. We have health protocols,” Mayor Edwin Olivarez said in Filipino in an interview over dzMM.

He also said the testing was illegal because it should have been done at a Department of Health-accredited laboratory or clinic, not at a subdivision’s open space.

The Chinese are residents of the subdivision and working for a POGO firm in Las Piñas, according to Olivarez.

The Las Piñas City government has yet to state if the firm is registered.

The Parañaque City government said that based on its initial investigation, a laboratory to process the swab samples was set up at the clubhouse by Filipinos, who also took the samples. The laboratory has been taken down.

“All those who are found violating (national and local laws) would have liabilities,” Olivarez said, adding that the matter has been brought to the city’s legal department.

Olivarez said the city government is also investigating if the subdivision approved the testing.

In a statement posted on Facebook on Thursday night, BF Homes officials said “the entities who are involved did not seek any permits or consent from this office nor the Parañaque city health office to undertake such activity.”

City administrator Fernando Soriano, however, said the BF Federation of Homeowner Associations Inc. “solely approved” the testing.

The association promised to release a statement but has yet to issue one as of presstime.

The netizen who posted the photos said he received information that the city government was behind the mass testing. Soriano denied this,   saying the city government “would not spend a single cent for the purpose of mass testing for POGOs.”

Last week, the city government required employees, including those of POGO firms, to submit COVID-19 test results before being allowed to return to work under the general community quarantine, which starts on June 1.

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