Malacañang on Monday expressed hope that the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) would continue its coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) testing efforts amid allegations that Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has failed to settle its debts which has spiked to over PHP700 million.
In a virtual Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque sought for patience from Red Cross, assuring them that their liabilities will be paid off eventually.
“Dati-rati naman po nagkaroon na rin naman ng advance ang gobyerno sa kanila, so kung medyo naaantala po, kaunting pasensya lang po (In the past, the government used to pay them in advance, so if there has been a slight delay, we ask for patience) and I’m sure that because (PNRC) is led by Senator Richard Gordon, it will be a priority po,” he said.
Roque said issues hounding the PhilHealth are also currently being addressed.
“Let’s just wait until they thresh out kung ano man iyong nagiging problema ngayon sa PhilHealth at sana po tuluy-tuloy pa rin iyong pagti-testing (whatever the problem in PhilHealth is now and we hope that they continue testing) because we consider PNRC as a very important partner of government in the testing capacity,” he said.
The Palace official admitted that the Red Cross is the largest Covid-19 testing center in the country.
He said the government is holding on to the hope that PhilHealth would be able to pay their unsettled dues once results of the investigation into massive corruption hounding the state insurer are released.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Aug. 7 ordered the Department of Justice to lead the task force that would investigate the supposed rampant corruption within PhilHealth.
Results of the investigation are set to be released within a month.
“Although malaking kawalan po iyan kapag tumigil ang PNRC at ang masasabi ko lang po, now that the focus is on PhilHealth, maaasahan naman siguro natin na maiiwasan iyong delay sa pag-reimburse ng PhilHealth (Although it’s a big loss if PNRC stops Covid-19 testing efforts, I can say that now that the focus is on PhilHealth, we can expect fewer delays in reimbursements),” he said.
However, Roque said that should Red Cross decide to suspend its Covid-19 testing program, there are several other Covid-19 testing centers in the country.
“There are now in excess of 101 laboratories doing PCR testing at in fact, while the PNRC is still the biggest testing center accounting for around 12 percent of the market, iyong susunod po (the next) is around 11 percent of the market at ang susunod na (and the next) 11 percent sa (of the) market caters almost exclusively to seamen,” he said.
He said the country could not rely on just one Covid-19 testing facility, even if Red Cross is the biggest one.
Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon, chairman of Philippine Red Cross, earlier said the humanitarian organization “cannot afford” to maintain its Covid-19 testing should PhilHealth fail to pay its unsettled dues.
Gordon warned that the Red Cross might not be able to replenish their stocks from China.
He pointed out that he personally does not want to halt the organization’s testing operations but emphasized the need to replenish their resources. (PNA)
Photo Credit: www.pia.gov.ph