(Clockwise, from left) DOT-TPB Chief Operating Officer Atty. Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones, BCDA Officer-in-Charge President and CEO Atty. Aristotle Batuhan and JBLMRH Medical Chief Center Dr. Montserrat Chichioco sign the MOA for subsidized COVID RT-PCR testing in Central Luzon during the TPB members’ virtual meeting last February
With the Philippines slowly opening its borders for tourism, the Department of Tourism (DOT) through the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), and the Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital (JBLMRH) have agreed to implement a COVID RT-PCR testing subsidy program for tourists in Central Luzon.
To formalize their partnership, a memorandum of agreement (MOA) was signed by DOT-TPB Chief Operating Officer Atty. Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones, BCDA Officer-in-Charge President and CEO Atty. Aristotle B. Batuhan, and JBLMRH Medical Center Chief Dr. Montserrat Chichioco during the TPB’s virtual weekly members meeting on February 23.
Travelers eligible under the TPB’s RT-PCR subsidy program, which the signatories agreed to closely implement, are: unvaccinated or partially vaccinated domestic tourists residing in Regions 1 to 3 traveling to tourist destinations via Clark International Airport (CRK) or by land, and international tourists and balikbayans traveling through the Clark gateway.
Under the MOA, the TPB will subsidize 100% of the cost of JBLMRH’s pre-scheduled swab testing service fee of Php 900 for domestic tourists and 50% of the testing fee of Php 1,800 for balikbayans and international tourists. The subsidy is available from March to June this year.
“We intend to help at least 5,555 tourists with this subsidy program, up to June, and if there’s a need to extend the subsidy, by all means, we should be able to do that as well,” said Velasco-Allones.
BCDA, for its part, will coordinate with the Luzon International Premiere Airport Development Corp. (LIPAD), the operations and maintenance concessionaire for CRK, in assessing, vetting, and processing applications and in attending to email and phone inquiries regarding the RT-PCR subsidy.
Batuhan said, “BCDA trusts that the MOA will give air commuters peace of mind that travel, through the Clark International Airport, is protected from the virus. The RT-PCR subsidy should encourage travelers, balikbayans and their families to spend hard-earned money for local tourism activities.”
The BCDA chief stressed BCDA’s commitment to swiftly respond to the pandemic and help the tourism industry get back on its feet by promoting safe travel. He also noted BCDA’s pandemic efforts over the last two years, including the active participation in vaccine procurement, and the establishment of mega-swabbing and quarantine facilities.
Meanwhile, JBLMRH, as the program’s implementing body for Central Luzon, is committed to implementing quality and timely testing procedures for all travelers who would avail of the program.
“We would like to have the tourists enjoy as much as they can, all the beautiful places not only in the Philippines but also abroad, as this will also boost the country’s economy,” Dr. Chichioco said during the virtual event.
The subsidy program aims to lessen the burden of travelers from COVID-19 testing required on some PH travel destinations. It will also support DOT’s efforts to mitigate economic losses brought about by the pandemic on the tourism industry.