NTF says Red Cross-Philhealth deal on COVID-19 testing 'legal'

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 23 2020 07:14 PM

MANILA - The agreement between the Philippine Red Cross and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) for the government’s massive COVID-19 testing program is legal, according to the National Task Force against COVID-19. 

The Task Force defended the agreement after Sen. Leila de Lima called for a full-blown investigation into alleged “questionable” provisions of the memorandum agreement between the two sides. 

“Ang kontrata po ng PhilHealth at Red Cross ay legal sa aming opinyon at walang kahit anumang anomalya,” Task Force Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon said in a virtual press conference Wednesday.

(The contract of PhilHealth and Red Cross is legal in our opinion and there is no anomaly.)

Dizon added it was the government that sought the assistance of the Red Cross at a time when it had to test thousands of returning overseas Filipino workers for COVID-19 and the testing capacity of existing laboratories was limited.

“Naniniwala po kami na mapapaliwanag ito ng mabuti, hindi lang ng Red Cross, kundi pati na rin ng PhilHealth at ng DOH na ito po ay completely above board,” Dizon noted.

(We believe this can be explained properly, not just by the Red Cross, but by PhilHealth and the DOH (Department of Health), that this is completely above board.)

NTF Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. also noted that the Red Cross helped government in handling testing of thousands of migrant workers who returned to the country in the early months of the pandemic. 

He cited PRC’s contributions in the country’s COVID-19 testing efforts as an estimed 6,000 OFWs return home daily amid the pandemic. Dizon estimates that 35% of the country’s COVID-19 RT-PCR testing so far were conducted by the Red Cross. 

“Ang kaniyang laboratoryo ay isa sa pinaka-high capacity na laboratoryo dito sa bansa. Sa ngayon wala pa pong laboratoryo na makakahigit sa kaniyang capacity,” Galvez said.

(The Red Cross laboratory has the highest testing capacity in the country. No laboratory exceeds its capacity as of now.)