MANILA - State insurer PhilHealth should pay the Philippine Red Cross the balance of its debt for COVID-19 testing within 3 days, the humanitarian organization's chairman, Sen. Richard Gordon, said Wednesday.
PhilHealth paid P500 million to the PRC on Tuesday evening, about half of its P1.1-billion bill. The remaining P561 million amounts to 160,475 tests, said Gordon.
"The debt is due and demandable. The agreement says upon demand by the Red Cross of payment, when we submit the receipts and all the things that go with this such as the records, pictures and results, they should pay in 3 days," Gordon told ANC's Headstart.
Pressed if this meant PhilHealth should pay the remaining balance within 3 days, Gordon said, "Yes, they should do that."
PRC temporarily stopped its PhilHealth-funded COVID-19 testing earlier this month after the unpaid bill reached P930 million. Operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport resumed Tuesday night, while other PRC laboratories reopened on Wednesday.
"They are aware of the contract and he said he’s going to pay it. I don’t know why he did not pay the whole amount," Gordon said, referring to PhilHealth chief Dante Gierran.
Gordon said Gierran had initially "promised" to pay the full bill after speaking with Executive Sec. Salvador Medialdea, COVID-19 testing czar Sec. Vince Dizon, and Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, but he later changed his statement.
"It’s hard to talk with them. If they are not serious we are deadly serious," he said.
"They are responsible for deaths that will happen, they are responsible if there’s a surge right now—there could be a surge in testing of positives. I hope it doesn’t happen. I pray it doesn’t happen…This country cannot afford to have another lockdown," he added.
Gordon said he suspects Gierran has been "so afraid" to make his moves as PhilHealth chairman due to the "sordid" record of PhilHealth.
"You cannot play Russian roulette and you cannot put a man there who is afraid to make decisions. If he is afraid, give it to somebody else," he said.
Gierran, formerly a director of the National Bureau of Investigation, took over the PhilHealth leadership after its former president, Ricardo Morales, resigned at the height of corruption allegations against agencies.