Barbers hits PH Red Cross: ‘Stop blackmailing government’
MANILA, Philippines — “Stop blackmailing the government.”
This was the message of Surigao del Norte 2nd Dist. Rep. Robert Ace Barbers to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) over the inability of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) to pay its debt to the humanitarian group.
The unpaid debt has prompted PRC to stop 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.
According to PRC chairman Richard Gordon, who is also a senator, PhilHealth’s debt has now reached P1.1 billion.
“I seriously counsel the management of the [Philippine Red Cross] to stop blackmailing the government. Please remember that every centavo in the coffers of the government comes from every Filipino taxpayer. It is very lamentable that due to the government’s alleged failure to pay its obligation on time, it has been accused of a lot of things.” Barbers said in a statement issued Monday.
Barbers said the government has to first check the legality of the agreement made between PRC and PhilHealth.
“But this should not be taken against the government and blackmail it by stopping a supposedly public and noble duty of the Red Cross, Philippine or International. The people ultimately suffer, not the government. Be true to your purpose and existence,” the lawmaker noted.
He then accused PRC of allegedly having unpaid rent to the University of the Philippines “for years.”
“If only for alleged unpaid dues you will resort to blackmailing, I wonder why the University of the Philippines has not evicted you yet from its property over which allegedly you have not paid rent for years,” Barbers said.
No valid contract
According to Barbers, PRC has “no valid contract” with PhilHealth.
“[PRC] has no right to impose on the government and demand payment for the alleged testings done on people. For one, it was learned that the [PRC] has no valid contract with PhilHealth over the alleged mass testing to be charged to Philhealth,” he said.
“It was also learned that the illegal contract that [PRC] and Philhealth officials represented by Atty. del Rosario executed is for the ADVANCE PAYMENT to [PRC] by Philhealth in the amount of P100M – in alleged compliance with the Bayanihan 1 where Heads of relevant Agencies were authorized to partner with [PRC] in the distribution of goods and services incidental in the fight against COVID-19,” he added.
However, Barbers pointed out that in the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, all partnerships entered into with PRC are “subject to reimbursement” and not advance payment as done by PhilHealth.
“The MOA therefore between Philhealth and [PRC] is illegal as PhilHealth has no authority to enter into a MOA and grant [PRC] the ADVANCE PAYMENTS,” Barbers said.
“In the coming days, this will all unfold and the government will be exonerated,” he added.
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