PH Red Cross COVID-19 tests for gov't to resume 'in full' Oct 28 – Gordon | Inquirer News
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AFTER PHILHEALTH GAVE P500 MILLION AS PARTIAL PAYMENT FOR ITS OVER P1 BILLION DEBT

PH Red Cross COVID-19 tests for gov’t to resume ‘in full’ Oct 28 – Gordon

/ 10:14 PM October 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) will fully resume its COVID-19 testing for the government on Wednesday after the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) settled half of its debt to the humanitarian organization.

But Sen. Richard Gordon, who also serves as chair of the PRC, said the organization would resume its COVID-19 testing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Tuesday night.

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“We will test right away. Tonight, I have requested the [PRC] secretary-general and all our laboratories in the entire country to open it to PhilHealth again,” Gordon said in an online interview with reporters.

“And we are going to [conduct] testing tonight from the Manila International Airport (NAIA) first, and tomorrow, regular testing will be conducted in full. So we are ready to test all the people that we have not tested,” he added.

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Earlier Tuesday, PhilHealth made a partial payment amounting to P500-million to PRC for the COVID-19 tests it conducted for the government on OFWs and returning Filipinos, among others.

“I think we received the payment already. We asked someone to get the check. It should be in the office already,” Gordon said, speaking partly in Filipino.

Last Oct. 16, the PRC had to temporarily suspend testing for the government after PhilHealth was not able to immediately settle its debt to the organization which reached over P1 billion.

Remaining debt

According to Gordon, the PRC is preparing a letter asking PhilHealth for the immediate payment of the state insurer’s remaining debt.

“We’re preparing a letter saying we thank you for your payment but we need you to pay the full amount in accordance with the contract,” he said.

“We’re not asking anything. We’re not even asking for interest. if somebody breaks a contract they’re liable for damages and interest. We don’t have to do that. We’re not in that game,” he added.

Gordon said PhilHealth president and CEO Dante Gierran, through a letter to the PRC, said the remaining balance will be paid “once documentary requirements for claims are validated and verified by PhilHealth.”

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But Gordon maintained that tests conducted by the PRC for PhilHealth were all accounted for.

“It’s my hope that Attorney Gierran will see his way clear. There are many other things that he can investigate. He can make his mark. Not Red Cross. We won’t do anything anomalous,” he said.

“Our name is too precious in the world and our people deserve a good Red Cross, a very good Red Cross and they’re getting that,” he added.

Asked if he had set a deadline for PhilHealth to make its payment, the senator said: “No. I really don’t like to give deadlines because I don’t want to paint people into a corner.”

“We are all Filipinos. Presumably, he (Gierran) loves the county. Maybe he should stick to his word,” he added.

‘Renegotiate’ testing deal

Gordon also said PhilHealth requested to “renegotiate” the agreement between the state insurer and the PRC.

The senator said he would be willing to discuss a possible renegotiation once PhilHealth pays its remaining balance.

Further, Gordon said he would no longer allow PhilHealth’s unsettled debt to balloon to over P1 billion like what had happened.

He said for future tests, PhilHealth will be billed within three days after they are conducted.

“We will ask them to pay right away, and then all the new tests within three days. They get the billing and they pay right away,” Gordon explained.

“We will no longer allow that. It really scared me. If they would not pay in three days, I would tell them we will stop the tests… We’re just kidding each other if they don’t pay. That means they’re not serious,” he added.

Nevertheless, Gordon said he was confident that PhilHealth would be able to make payments immediately this time.

“I think they will pay. I’m confident they will pay,” he said.

KGA / ATM

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