Medical certificate racket in Malolos stopped

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MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan — The controversial chest X-ray requirement and Complete Blood Count (CBC) tests before a medical certificate is issued to an individual applying for a Travel Authority here was ordered stopped by City Mayor Gilbert Gatchalian.

The order came as the Malolos City Council passed on Tuesday (June 23) a unanimous resolution ordering City Health Officer Dr. Victor Batanes to stop the collection of P100 for the medical certificate and another P400 being charged by a private laboratory clinic that corners all referrals from Batanes.

On Monday, City Councilor Atty. Dennis San Diego delivered a privilege speech condemning the racket on the medical certificate based on an expose of Manila Standard published last June 20.

The story went viral and had more than 36,000 views barely an hour after it was posted on the Facebook page of a local tabloid, MetroNEWS Bulacan, the oldest Malolos-based English weekly circulating in the province. The Standard expose reached 110,110 views in 24-hours and as of Wednesday, continues to trend with more than 121,234 as of 5 pm.

Netizens who aired their rants and expletives against the requirement where mostly those who paid P400 to the Ma. Trinity Laboratory & Diagnostic Center but were not issued an official receipt. They are now more vocal and demanding a refund of the 500-peso fee they paid.

The chest X-ray and CBC test were made mandatory by Dr. Batanes who admitted during the inquiry at the City Council that it was his ‘judgment call’ although it was pointed out vividly by San Diego that the Department of Health algorithm does not require those tests before a travel pass is issued.

Mayor Gatchalian also stopped the payment of fees for the medical certificates similarly required before a ‘Clearance’ is given to local returning-to-work employees and workers. Some 150 to 200 applicants for both travel pass and clearance are processed daily by the Malolos City Police since May 8.

The inquiry on the medical certificate, that rakes in an estimated P50,000 to P80,000 daily to the private laboratory, will resume today headed by Councilor Kirk Nicolas who heads the Committee on Health.

Nicolas and San Diego said they will strongly push that all the seven city doctors in the Rural Health Units all over the city should be given the authority to issue medical certificates after it was learned that the City Police Chief Col. Jacqueline Puapo was told that only Batanes signature will be honored in the issuance of travel pass.

Atty. Rizaldy Mendoza, former City Administrator of Malolos, now the assistant City Administrator in San Jose Del Monte said they do not charge residents any fee for medical certificates issued by their city doctors to facilitate travel pass and other clearances for returning workers. “This is time to help our displaced constituents. We should use all city resources to make life easy for the poorest of the poor,” he said. (RONDA BALITA Online)

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