BAGUIO CITY: Mayor Benjamin Magalong has denied accusations that the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic has been a “money-making” venture for the local government and its officers.

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Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong. File Photo

The mayor said no one in the city government earns from the tests being conducted either by the government or any private company as claimed.

“Testing was made a border requirement to ensure that all those coming into the city are cleared of the virus. Travelers have the option to undertake their tests from their place of origin or here in the city through the private providers of the RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) or antigen tests. We are not connected to these providers, and there is no way we are profiting from them,” Magalong said in a statement.

He said the expanded testing program of the city government is one of the measures being done to identify Covid-19 carriers in order that they could immediately be isolated to prevent transmission and that medical attention be given to avoid the onset of serious symptoms and death.

The testing kits being used for the expanded and contact tests are being solicited by the mayor from the national government and from the private sector.

The city has not spent a single amount from its coffers for the tests, he added.

On claims that Covid-19 patients are being used to obtain more claims from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), the mayor and City Health Officer Rowena Galpo said the city government applies for PhilHealth claims for the patients, availing of the isolation facilities, but it only claims what is due for the services rendered.

“It does not earn from these claims. In fact, the city’s total expenses, incurred in caring for the isolated patients far, exceeds the amount of claims it can collect from PhilHealth,” the statement explained.

Galpo said the city allows the use of the facilities for free with provisions for three square meals, two snacks, limited supply of water, beddings and medicines for mild symptoms if needed for the duration of the isolation, which is 14 days.

“The Philhealth claim amounts to P22,400 per patient, which is barely enough if you add everything up for the 14-day board and lodging, utility services, manpower and other services,” Galpo said.

She said the city does not apply for claims for severe cases, confined in hospitals, and for patients on home isolation.

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