/ 11 June 2021

SENATOR Juan Edgardo ‘Sonny’ Angara has filed a measure that will allow jobseekers to undergo free Covid19 testing.

The senator said the free Covid test is “a needed employment stimulus” during the pandemic.

“Kung luluwas ka sa isang lungsod, minsan kailangan ‘yang negative result as gate pass. Kahit na sabihin na online ang application, kadalasan may face-to-face interview na kasunod, o kaya actual demonstration ng skills,” Angara said.

Under Senate Bill 2291, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or PhilHealth will cover the cost of the test.

The Department of Health, in cooperation with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Trade and Industry, will ensure Covid testing is free and accessible for all jobseekers.

The measure will cover a young person who is finding employment for the first time; an unemployed person who is actively seeking employment; and a displaced worker whose employment was permanently terminated for authorized reasons or other causes arising from the Covid19 pandemic.

The proposed law mandates Covid19 testing centers to reserve slots for jobseekers who qualify for free tests, the cost of which will be refunded by PhilHealth, based on a  prescribed price.

Angara said this will benefit fresh graduates looking for jobs. He pointed out that workers need help to access the labor market with ease, while employers need recruits who can readily submit credentials.

The Covid19 test however shall not be considered an additional mandatory requirement for employment.

Angara is a co-author of the First Time Job Seekers Assistance Act, which exempts new jobseekers from paying fees on a slew of government-issued documents .

Under Republic Act 11261, NBI clearance, barangay clearance, medical certificate from public hospitals, birth and marriage certificates, tax identification number, community tax certificate, multi-purpose ID card, are among the documents that can be issued for free.