President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday, October 19, assured the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) that the government will settle the accumulated debt over unpaid fees for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests.
“Do not worry. We will pay. It will take time but we will pay. We’ll look for the money. Hindi naman marami but ang priorities natin dito is really medical — medical at treatment, medical attention. Iyon ang ano natin. So alam ko na itong bayad na ito. Mabayaran ito in a short while. Do not worry,” President Duterte said during a televised address.
“Iyong Red Cross kasi hindi nabayaran doon sa testing sa COVID. So ang problema nito, Red Cross is threatening to I do not know, but I do not think [PRC Chairman] Senator Gordon would have in his mind to stop the help. They would continue. But what I’m really trying to say is we will pay,” he added.
Governments all over the world have been struggling economically as a result of the pandemic, the President explained, noting that despite the financial difficulties, his administration is doing its best to “make both ends meet” and exhaust all resources.
The President said his administration is still “looking for a way to present the solution” to the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to pay PRC.
Last week, the PRC issued a statement saying the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) has failed to pay the PRC for conducting COVID-19 tests amounting to millions.
The PRC then said in the statement that it will no longer conduct RT-PCR tests on arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), passengers in airports and seaports, individuals requesting RT-PCR tests in government swabbing facilities, frontline health and government workers, and those included in the expanded testing guidelines of the Department of Health (DOH).
It however clarified that PhilHealth’s new chief Dante Gierran made an assurance to pay unpaid fees.
An investigative body tasked by the President to probe anomalies at PhilHealth recommended the filing of charges against its officials for corruption involving billions.
Previously, the President has vowed to go after corrupt PhilHealth officials, saying he would ensure accountability and eliminate corruption at the state-run insurance corporation for the remaining two years of his term. PND