‘Rich kids ba mga Pinoy?’: Beauty queens slam expensive COVID-19 test in PH

January 11, 2022 - 6:29 PM
This composite shows Miss World Philippines 2007 Maggie Wilson and Miss Universe Philippines 2014 MJ Lastimosa. (Instagram/Maggie Wilson; MJ Lastimosa)

Two beauty queens joined other Filipinos in criticizing the expensive COVID-19 test in the country amid the new COVID-19 surge.

In a tweet on January 10, Miss Universe Philippines 2014 MJ Lastimosa questioned why the RT-PCR (Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test is pricier in the Philippines.

“Bakit ‘yung RT-PCR pricing sa mga bansang napuntahan ko kapresyo lang ng antigen dito s’atin?, Rich kids ba mga Pinoy? (crying emojis) Kaloka talaga dito s’atin,” she tweeted.

Another former beauty queen Maggie Wilson also aired a similar sentiment over the expensive antigen test kits in the country on her social media accounts.

Wilson slammed those who are taking advantage of the demand in antigen test kits amid the country’s rising COVID-19 cases.

“So I inquired about buying a box of antigen test kits for a friend who’s based in the UK (United Kingdrom) for her family in the Philippines. The prices of a box of 20 to 25 kits have now doubled,” Wilson said in a Facebook post.

“It’s disgraceful how the people who are selling them are taking advantage of the situation and upping the prices due to demand. Greed! We have no price regulations in place,” she added.

Wilson further described the lack of free test kits in the country as “disgraceful.”

“It’s even more disgraceful that our government doesn’t offer them for free,” she said.

Wilson said that the current price of antigen test kit is at P10,000 per box.

The Miss World 2007 candidate compared it with the situation in the UK where test kits are free.

“In the UK, anyone can walk in to a pharmacy and ask for a box of [lateral flow] test kits for free. Each kit even has a QR code where you can scan and register your results on the National Health Service website,” she said.

‘Make COVID testing free’

Several Twitter users similarly pointed out that the costly prices of COVID-19 testing in the country discouraged most Filipinos from taking them.

They called on the government to make it free for everyone.

“Can we make COVID testing free in this country? So many people refuse to get tested because they can cost an arm and a leg. Some of us can afford to pay for peace of mind, but others can’t because that money puts food on their tables,” one Twitter user said.

“Tested COVID+ din via antigen (which costs p960), hindi na ako nag-RT PCR kasi sobrang mahal talaga (around P3.6k+) and same din naman daw na mag-isolate and quarantine ako,” another Twitter user said.

Others also questioned why the Philippine government couldn’t make COVID-19 testing accessible for all.

They noted that other countries were able to do so.

“Philippines can’t relate sa FREE COVID 19 test to prevent the disease in Korea. May free RT-PCR din ang ibang LGUs pero napakahirap tumawag/lapitan. Sobrang tagal. Jusko gumaling ka na, di ka pa natetest, so mas pipiliin mong magpa test sa private para mapabilis pero mahal,” one user said.

“If RT-PCR and antigen testing are free in other countries, what’s stopping the Philippines from doing the same thing?” another user added.

Free RT-PCR tests are currently being administered by the Office of the Vice President, some local government units and private organizations.

RELATED: Test, test, test: A list of sites where you can get tested for COVID-19 

The national government, on the other hand, will look into assessing the price caps of test kits again amid the worsening health crisis.

“Maybe we can start assessing again the prices, although we went through that cycle, we went through cycles of putting those caps on the RT-PCR. So maybe, it can be something that we can explore again or the DOH (Department of Health) can explore again,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles was quoted as saying last week.