MANILA (UPDATE) - Residents of the capital city returning from vacation in different parts of the country are urged to undergo free confirmatory COVID-19 tests or they might face criminal charges, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said Monday.
If residents are coming from another city in Metro Manila, they are urged to undergo antigen test for coronavirus, he added.
"That’s very important 'yung early stage, hindi naman kaila na ang impeksyon ay nasa buong Pilipinas na. Ito naman ay para sa kapanatagan nila at kanilang pamilya," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(The early stage is very important, we cannot deny the infection is all over the Philippines already. This is for their own and their family's peace of mind.)
"That’s why we encourage them to submit themselves to swab testing. Anyway, it’s available, accessible and it’s free," he told ANC's Headstart.
Those who will undergo testing will be placed in a quarantine facility as they await their test results which will be released in 24 hours, Moreno said.
"We guarantee that within 24 hours lalabas ang resulta. Habang kayo ay nasa quarantine facility namin, we’ll make it feel as if it’s your home. Kung sakali kayo ay nagpositibo, mininum ninyo po 14 days. Libre po," he said.
(We guarantee that within 24 hours the results will be released. While you're in our quarantine facility, we’ll make it feel as if it’s your home. If you test positive, the minimum period is 14 days. It's free.)
Residents who refuse to get tested may face criminal charges, the mayor said.
"They might be facing criminal cases. Kaya ang preference ko lagi...we would encourage na sali na kayo, sama na kayo," he said when asked if residents who refuse would be penalized.
(So I always prefer...we would encourage them to join us.)
"'Pag ikaw ay positibo at iyong pinabayan, you might violate the Republic Act, merong batas dyan more than the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19) rule."
(If you turn out positive and you neglect it, you might violate the Republic Act, there's a law besides the IATF rule.)
The city sought the help of barangay officials in monitoring returning residents and will also look at travel documents used to exit the capital over the holidays, Moreno said.
"It’s not a perfect system, we will try to reach them, as many as possible. Panawagan ko magkusa na lang, para sa kanila naman ito," he said.
(I call on them to volunteer, it's for them anyway.)
Meantime, some 30,000 residents pre-registered in the city's rollout of COVID-19 vaccine during its launch last Dec. 31, Moreno said.
The city had opened pre-registration at www.manilacovid19vaccine.com to identify residents who want to be inoculated aside from healthworkers and senior citizens, who are prioritized on the national government's list.
The city has allocated P250 million for vaccine procurement and might set aside up to P1 billion in its 2021 budget, according to the mayor.
"The least we can do is give everyone peace of mind and make this available to everyone, as many as possible. I would prefer yung kusa (those who volunteer)," he said.
The Philippines is expected to begin inoculations against the coronavirus in the second quarter, with the supply it bought from AstraZeneca scheduled to arrive in May.