PRC chair Gordon says PhilHealth yet to pay P1.1B debt despite ‘promises’
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Red Cross (PRC) chairman and Senator Richard Gordon on Monday said that the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) has yet to settle its debt to the humanitarian organization, even expressing frustration that the state insurer allegedly “keeps giving excuses on such a serious and critical matter.”
In a message to reporters, Gordon said the PRC is “almost out” of COVID-19 test kits and they need to be paid so their supply could be replenished.
“PhilHealth owes PRC P1.1billion already. No payment as yet in spite of their numerous announcements that they will pay…PhilHealth has been perfidious, reckless [and] they have been in violation of the contract so many times. PRC covered the first humongous wave of people to be tested,” he said.
“PhilHealth should be ashamed of themselves for betraying our vulnerable people. They have been cheating the people since they started operations, overcharging and overpaying. Those who have been cheating before [COVID-19] are still there. PhilHealth is playing with people’s lives. A lot more people may be spreading [COVID-19] because of the severe lack of testing,” Gordon added.
Since October 16, the PRC stopped conducting COVID-19 tests for the government on arriving overseas Filipino workers, passengers in airports and seaports, individuals asking for new coronavirus tests in government swabbing facilities, among others, after PhilHealth failed to pay its debt.
Last week, PhilHealth vowed to settle its balance on Monday, October 26.
Gordon said because of this assurance from PhilHealth, PRC chartered a flight to China for Tuesday to get more COVID-19 test kits.
“Because of PhilHealth’s promises to pay we had chartered a flight to China for tomorrow. But due to PhilHealth’s non-payment, we do not have the money to pay for the test kits [and] other equipment worth 6 to 8 million dollars just for this particular shipment. We will have to cancel the flight tomorrow if no payment is made,” the senator said.
“We sadly note that PhilHealth keeps giving excuses on such a serious and critical matter. First, they say they want to be sure the contract is OK. They needed [Department of Budget and Management]. The President told them to pay. Then it was referred to [Department of Justice] who told them the contract is valid and they must pay,” he added.
The PRC also had to hold off the construction of several provincial molecular laboratories because of PhilHealth’s non-payment, according to Gordon.
Malacañang earlier said the Department of Health is in talks with eight private laboratories with a combined testing capacity as PRC’s in a bid to continue COVID-19 testing for OFWs and returning Filipinos.
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