PhilHealth urged to pay Red Cross on time for disaster response funds

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 03 2020 11:28 AM | Updated as of Nov 03 2020 04:15 PM

Several sea vessels and structures lie in ruins on Monday in Gigmoto, Catanduanes following the devastation of Super Typhoon Rolly on the island province. Rolly first made landfall in Catanduanes carrying its peak winds of 265kph. Courtesy of Cecilio Hagos, Good Neighbors International Philippines

MANILA - Embattled state insurer PhilHealth is urged to make timely payments to the Philippine Red Cross for coronavirus testing as it needs funds for disaster response after erstwhile Super Typhoon Rolly's onslaught, Sen. Richard Gordon said Tuesday.

PhilHealth still has some P477 million in debt to the non-government organization for coronavirus testing it conducted for Filipino migrant workers, according to the PRC chairman.

The state insurer should make its payment within 3 days after Red Cross sends a bill, Gordon said.

"We are supposed to be only an auxiliary, government is supposed to bear the brunt of the support but we always help and the whole world helps us through the Red Cross," he told ANC's Headstart.

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"As far as I'm concerned they can do all the evaluation, all I’m gonna say is we did not test anything that was not given to us by government. Coast Guard did a good job, we made sure they documented it. We can account for all the people tested."

The senator said the Philippine Red Cross has sent food, fuel, 3 water tankers, and a desalination plant donated by Israel to severely-hit Catanduanes, where Rolly made its initial landfall early Sunday.

The NGO has received some P35 million from the international federation of Red Cross which it will use to respond to areas that the world's strongest storm this year devastated, Gordon said.

It plans to build transitional homes in Legazpi City, Albay after Rolly destroyed some 167 houses there, he added.

"This is gonna be a long time, this is like Haiyan in terms of redevelopment. But this is more organized now, we've learned a lot of lessons. The only problem in Catanduanes is that it’s isolated," he said.

The Red Cross can "easily send" COVID-19 swabbers in the island province, Gordon said.

"I’m not worried about COVID there because they’re pretty isolated there and the pop[ulation] is sparse. I’m more worried about diarrhea, water-borne diseases, or the lack of water so we’re paying attention to that," he said.