Duterte Assures Gov’t Will ‘Look For Money’ To Settle Red Cross Debt

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President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night assured that the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will pay its debts to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

In his weekly Talk to the Nation, Duterte said the government is currently working on a solution to pay the PhilHealth’s accumulated debt of PHP930.99 million.

Duterte’s statement comes after the PRC last week stopped conducting tests that are being charged to the PhilHealth.

“Itong Red Cross, huwag ka mag-alala mabayaran ‘to (This Red Cross, don’t worry we’ll pay the debt). They’re just looking for a way to present the solution sa (in) [the Commission on Audit] pati sa Budget. Do not worry, we will pay. It will take time, but we will pay,” Duterte said.

The President 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,” he added.

The PRC has been receiving samples of returning overseas Filipino workers, those arriving in airports and seaports, those in mega swabbing facilities, and front-line health and government workers.

Duterte said “money has always been a problem” especially at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Dumaan tayo ng malaking gastos (We went through massive spending) and we’re trying to make both ends meet. Binabanat natin ng husto ‘yung resources natin, (We are really stretching our resources),” he said.

Last Thursday, National Policy Against Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said National Policy chairman and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Dante Gierran have been in talks with PRC chairman and Senator Richard Gordon to address the issue.

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.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said PRC accounts for one-fourth of the country’s testing capacity, which means its decision to halt testing could hamper testing efforts.

He, however, assured that there are public and private laboratories that also have the capacity to handle the Covid-19 tests. (PNA)

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