Bello: 4K OFWs Stranded Due To PhilHealth Issue With PRC


At least 4,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were stranded after the Philippine Red Cross (PRD) stopped conducting the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) tests for government due to unpaid PHP930 million debt by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said on Tuesday.

DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the OFW returnees have been stranded in hotels in Metro Manila as they wait for their swab tests and results before they will be transported by the government to their respective provinces.

“Right now, we are talking of at least 4,000 plus OFWs now stranded in Metro Manila,” he said in a virtual Palace press briefing.

Bello said he is hoping that the issue between Red Cross and PhilHealth will be resolve as the soonest possible time.

“So the sooner this issue of payment is resolved the better for our OFWs and the better for the finances of our government that’s a big problem,” he said.

Bello said before the PRC stopped conducting test on arriving OFWs and other individuals asking for Covid-19 tests in government swabbing facilities, the DOLE was able to send 1,000 to 3,000 OFWs back to their home provinces a day.

“Now, the problem about Red Cross not conducting the swabbing test, we are now faced with another stranding of our OFWs, whereas before we succeeded in bringing home, or repatriating our OFWs at the rate of 1,000 to 3,000 a day, now we are talking about of maximum 300 a day so you can just imagine how many OFWs are stranded in all the hotels in Metro Manila,” he said.

He said more stranded OFWs would mean additional expenses for the government.

“That’s our problem and they are staying longer, while before they could stay only as long 3 to 4 days. Now, they are staying beyond one week and that’s our problem in terms of expenses and in terms of taking care of our OFWs,” Bello added.

A negative swab test result is one of the requirements for the OFWs to be able to go back to their home towns.

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte assured that the PhilHealth will settle its debts to Red Cross, hoping that PRC chairman Richard Gordon would still continue conduct Covid-19 tests.

Duterte said he will look for sources to settle the state insurer’s outstanding balance so that the PRC can resume the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) tests.

“We’ll look for the money. Hindi naman marami but ang priority natin dito is really medical treatment, medical attention. Babayaran to (Not so much but our priority is really medical treatment, medical attention. We’ll pay for it) in a short while, do not worry,” Duterte said in his weekly Talk to the Nation.

Earlier, PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Dante Gierran said the state insurer will pay its outstanding balance, but also pointed out that his team found questionable items in the agency’s existing deal with the non-government organization.

He claimed that the contract between PhilHealth and PNRC, which was approved by former PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales, did not comply with procurement directives of the Office of the Executive Secretary.

In the same Palace briefing on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque assured that PhilHealth did not run out of funds because under the Universal Health Care, the government is responsible for the viability of the state insurer.

Roque, however, could not determine when PhilHealth will be able to settle its debts to Red Cross.

“Hindi ko lang po masabi ‘no. I wish I could say within the day pero siyempre po may mga papeles naman na ginagawa (I cannot say when. I wish I could say within the day but of course there are documents being prepared) but I can assure you that at least half of that will be paid at the soonest time possible,” he said. (PNA)

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest News

Rep. Fortun To Senate: Expedite Upgrade Of Anti-Rape Laws

"We need this signed into law already, especially now that we have a pandemic. Studies show there has been a significant spike of rape and sexual abuse cases owing to circumstances contributing to the further vulnerability of children and women."

Rep. Romualdez Launches Clearing Operations In Barangay Malanday, Marikina

Tingog Party List practices the Bayanihan spirit through its cash-for-work program that aims to clear the mud and debris left by the massive floods of Typhoon Ulysses.

Salceda Urges For Fiscal Expansion Amid Drop In Unemployment Rate

“I take it as a signal that as soon as we get the vaccine and return to the previous normal, we will recover to around 5-6% unemployment. I am still alarmed at underemployment, which stands at 14.4%. Much of that is just Filipino inventiveness―online selling, and other new cottage industries. They will not be enough to pay the rent and the bills.”

Bello: Tourism Workers May Avail Of Cash Aid, Employment Programs

The Department of Labor and Employment encourages displaced tourism workers in the formal and informal sectors to avail of the financial assistance and the emergency employment program of the government.

House Panel OKs Bill Recognizing Conserved IPs’ Communities

A measure seeking to recognize the indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples community conserved territories and areas hurdled committee level at the House of Representatives on Thursday.

Galvez: Face-To-Face Classes Resumption In Med Schools Vital

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. says the resumption of the face-to-face classes at the tertiary level particularly in medical schools is important as some courses require “physical experimental learning.”

House Remains Safe After 98 Tested Positive For COVID-19

House Secretary General Mark Llando Mendoza assures that the Batasan Complex remains safe after 98 people tested positive for COVID-19.

House Gives Nod To Bill Imposing Higher Penalties To Wildlife Abuse

The House Committee on Natural Resources has approved a bill that imposes higher penalties to those who will exploit and abuse the wildlife in the country.

Mayor Jerry Officiates Weddings While Social Distancing

The "City of Love" celebrates love while social distancing!

Galvez: PH COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap, Timeline On Track

"We are still on track considering that there is a possibility that our best-case scenario will be shifted to the first quarter," says Galvez.