Criminal charges of falsification of public document and disobedience are being considered for filing against the San Miguel Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) who traveled home despite being positive for COVID-19, the Catanduanes Provincial Police Office stated last week.
During the joint meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) and Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council (PADAC), Police Provincial Director Col. Paul Abay said the case against patient dubbed as Cat-2 is still being investigated particularly the authenticity of the Quarantine Certificate he presented.
There were unconfirmed reports that someone copied the certificate form from the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) website and sent it to the OFW at the Makati City hotel where was staying prior to his travel on June 6, 2020.
PD Abay disclosed that a list of arriving OFWs sent by the provincial coordinator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) indicated only an OFW from San Andres, not the San Miguel patient.
He said it was the family of the OFW who informed the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) of his arrival, not the OWWA.
Earlier, the provincial government announced that, upon initial investigation, the quarantine certificate presented by the 49-year old pipefitter was fake.
A close inspection of the document revealed that it bore the logos of nine agencies, compared to just three in the authentic certificate issued by the IATF-Sub-Task Group on Repatriation United Teams.
At the PPOC-PADAC meeting, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Catanduanes commander Lt. Warren Quejencio confirmed that the fake certificate did not indicate the date of the test result as well as the name of the molecular laboratory facility that issued the test result.
One of the signatories in the document, Capt. Eric Steven Guieb, commanding officer of the PCG Medical Service, reportedly denied signing any certificate bearing the OFW patient’s name.
Latest reports allege that the quarantine certificate is authentic but was fraudulently issued by concerned quarantine officials for a fee.
Sources told the Tribune that the OFW, who had been working in Saudi Arabia for five years before the coronavirus pandemic hit, was staying in the same room with another OFW who had already tested positive for COVID-19 before they were sent back to the Philippines.
It remains unclear whether he already knew he was positive as the swab taken from him on May 23 had its results released on June 1, or five days before he left the hotel.
On its way to Albay, the OWWA bus dropped off most of its passengers and returned to Manila, leaving the San Miguel man and the San Andres woman to rent a van to Tabaco where they stayed at one of the rooms of the national high school overnight before going to the port.
How he managed to board the bus and get past the port officials is still being probed.
Gov. Joseph Cua has already advised the PCG in Catanduanes to implement a stricter protocol in the inspection of documents of Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) as well as Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) arriving in local ports.
For ROFs, they will be required to present a copy of the Molecular Laboratory Result Form issued by the Philippine Red Cross will be required to ensure that they tested negative for COVID-19 based on Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing.
To strengthen the island’s coronavirus containment strategy, a team has been hired in Tabaco to handle the screening of arriving LSIs and ROFs.