President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign an order imposing a price ceiling on Covid-19 tests, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque said a Department of Health-led technical working group had made recommendations to Duterte.

“From all indications, mukha naman pong magkakaroon ng price cap,” Roque said.

The government earlier called out firms using donated test kits and machines for overpricing Covid-19 tests.

“Alam naman natin na pu-puwedeng mas mura iyang testing na iyan dahil sa Project ARK nga, as low as P1,500 ay kaya nilang magbigay ng testing up to P2,000,” Roque said.

Project ARK is a private sector rapid-testing initiative.

Roque said making tests more affordable would help the government in its fight against the virus.

“Importante po iyan sa ating istratehiya dahil kung walang testing, hindi natin alam kung sino ang ia-isolate at kung sino ang gagamutin,” he explained.

‘I speak for the president’

Roque hit back at Sen. Richard Gordon who accused him of meddling in the issue between the Philippine Red Cross and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

The Red Cross earlier suspended its free Covid-19 testing due to PhilHealth’s P930.99-million debt.

Roque said prior to PhilHealth’s payment of P500 million on Tuesday that the Red Cross could charge the government lower than P3,500 for every test administered.

Sen. Richard Gordon, the Red Cross chairman, said about Roque: “Walang pakialam si Secretary Roque rito. Panay ang bira niya e. Wala siyang pakialam diyan. Hindi siya kasali.”

Roque insisted he was speaking for the president.

The Red Cross restarted its free Covid-19 testing on Wednesday. John Ezekiel J. Hirro