PhilHealth’s P930M debt to PH Red Cross will be paid, Duterte assures

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MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday assured that the government will pay Philippine Health Corporation’s (PhilHealth) P930-million debt to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) over COVID-19 tests.

“Ditong Red Cross, ‘wag ka mag-alala, mabayaran ‘to. Just looking for a way to present the solution to COA [Commission on Audit] pati sa [Department of] Budget [and Management],” Duterte told Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in a pre-recorded speech.

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“Do not worry, we will pay, it will take time but we will pay. We’ll look for the money… Alam ko na itong bayad na ito, babayaran to in a short while. Do not worry,” he added.

The President said he doubts that Senator Richard Gordon, who chairs PRC, would stop its support to the government’s COVID-19 response.

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“I do not think Senator Gordon would have in his mind to stop. They would continue,” Duterte said.

“What I’m really trying to say is we will pay. Sabihin ko kay Senator Gordon, because he heads the Red Cross, na babayaran ko ‘to,” he added.

The PRC has stopped conducting COVID-19 tests for the government after PhilHealth failed to settle some P930 million it owed for previous tests.

Since October 16, PRC stopped conducting tests on arriving overseas Filipino workers, passengers in airports and seaports, individuals asking for COVID-19 tests in government swabbing facilities, front-line health and government workers, and others included in the expanded testing guidelines of the Department of Health.

PhilHealth cited procurement issues in the agreement it entered with PRC as the reason behind the failure to pay the debt. It also assured earlier that it would settle its debt to PRC.

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