Subsidized RT-PCR test for domestic tourists now available at PCMC    

THOSE planning to go on leisure travel within the country can now apply for a subsidized RT-PCR test for the coronavirus at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC), with the cash-out rate set at P750 per person. The Department of Tourism and the PCMC signed an agreement on Monday for the subsidy program that is intended to help encourage domestic tourism by assisting with the cost of a COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) test. A negative result is required from travelers. Under the deal, the PCMC will provide tests at a cost of P1,500 each, 50% of which will be paid for by the Tourism department through the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB). The TPB has allocated P8.7 million for the project, which will cover 11,650 qualified tourists. At the signing ceremony streamed live, TPB Chief Operating Officer Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones said the project is valid until June next year. Ms. Allones also said they are “exploring other partnerships” with government-owned hospitals outside Metro Manila for the program. The Tourism department earlier signed a similar arrangement with the UP-Philippine General Hospital in Manila. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat noted that domestic tourism contributes about 10.8% to the country’s economy as she vowed that the department will continue “working hand-in-hand” with the industry as well government health facilities to ensure health and safety protocols are followed as the tourism sector is slowly reopened. Details on applying for the subsidy program is posted on MSJ

Not all local governments can afford own vaccine purchase, says ULAP head

NOT all local government units (LGUs) have the financial capacity to have their own coronavirus vaccine procurement program, the head of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) said. “Some provinces and municipalities are challenged economically and financially which is why their pockets are not that deep,” ULAP President and Quirino Governor Dakila E. Cua said in a briefing. The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) earlier said local governments can take the initiative to buy coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines for their constituents. Mr. Cua said some localities are looking at possible fund sources such as allocations for disaster management, but this will have to be authorized by the national government. — Gillian M. Cortez