THREE persons accused of operating an unauthorized RT-PCR testing company in Sampaloc, Manila were arrested in an entrapment operation conducted by undercover officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) last Thursday, a report to PNP chief General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said.
The suspects were identified as Dave Romitton Robles, the 28-year-old manager of Swab Express Medical Services, and medical technicians Chinky Chenee Robles, 26, and Alma Bella Consulo, 51.
According to PNP-CIDG director Major Gen. Albert Ignatius D. Ferro, the three were arrested in the wake of their ongoing operation against profiteers and other unscrupulous persons taking advantage of the pandemic.
Around 10:15 a.m. Thursday, he said the three were placed under arrest during a sting conducted by operatives from the CIDG Eastern Metro Manila District Field Unit with the assistance of the Eastern Police District and the Philippine Air Forces’ Air Intelligence Serving Wing.
Ferro said that the entrapment operation was launched following information received by his men regarding the presence of a small office in Sampaloc which is involved in the unauthorized conduct or administration of RT-PCR tests.
He said the Department of Health (DOH) certified that Swab Express Medical Health Services is not authorized or given a License to Operate by the DOH as a COVID-19 Testing Laboratory. The same laboratory also has no recorded application from the DOH.
The PNP-CIDG director said that on Thursday, undercover agents posed as clients of the Sampaloc company. Shortly after one of the agents was subjected to an RT-PCR test by one of the technicians, the suspects were arrested.
All three failed to present any pertinent documents authorizing them to operate their RT-PCR testing business.
Ferro said that recovered during the operation were six boxes of Sansure Biotech SARS-COV-2 Rapid Antigen Test (Colloidal Gold Method), five boxes of Joinstar Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test kit (Latex), two buffers containing the swab sample of the undercover officer, two Consent Forms of the client and Screening Participant Information, an official receipt for P7,999 issued by the laboratory, the boodle money topped by a marked bill and two laptop computers.
Ferro said they are investigating the suspects for their involvement in a “swab test scam” in the country where they misrepresent themselves as a laboratory authorized by the government to conduct RT-PCR tests.
However, tests conducted by the said scammers remain invalid since they are operating without any authority from the DOH and the Food and Drug Administration.
Ferro said that the suspects are now facing charges for violation of Republic Act 4688 or An Act Regulating the Operation and Maintenance of Clinical Laboratories and Requiring the Registration of the Same with the Department of Health, Providing Penalty for the Violation Thereof, and for Other Purposes in relation to DOH Administrative Order Number 2007-0027.
“As long as there are people who continuously pursue profiteering through their illegal means, we at the CIDG will also continue to go after them to make to make sure that they will not gain anything but face the consequences of their illegal deeds behind bars,” the PNP-CIDG director said.