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House bill seeks free COVID-19 testing for 1st-time jobseekers, displaced workers

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

A BILL has been filed at the House of Representatives that will mandate government to provide free COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) testing for jobseekers.

Iligan City Rep. Frederick W. Siao filed House Bill 10340, the proposed Free COVID-19 Testing for Jobseekers Act, that would subsidize the testing fee as part of the pre-employment process.

“Some jobseekers reported they had to incur additional costs for COVID-19 testing being required by employers, which hindered them from pursuing their application and continuing their job search,” Mr. Siao said in his explanatory note.

He added that free COVID-19 testing currently offered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. only covers at-risk individuals, infected patients, healthcare workers, and senior citizens.

Under the bill, the Department of Health in cooperation with other government agencies will be responsible for providing free test to those who are seeking employment for the first time, an unemployed Filipino actively seeking a job, and displaced workers who were permanently terminated due to warranted reasons or other causes from the coronavirus pandemic.

The law, if enacted, would also require testing centers to allocate a percentage of daily testing capacity for jobseekers.

A counterpart bill in the Senate is pending at the committee level. — Russell Louis C. Ku

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