The Philippine Red Cross is not greedy for money, the organization's chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said Friday, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte criticized the PRC for stopping COVID-19 tests due to the government's P1.1 billion debt.
"I'll give him (Duterte) the benefit of the doubt. Baka naman ang tinutukoy n'ya 'yung talagang nagsamantala nung hindi kami nag-test kasi ang baba ng test namin, 'yung halaga," the PRC chairman said in an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
He added: "Hindi kami mukhang pera. Pero sabi ko lang, dahan-dahan naman sa pananalita because nakakatulong naman kami. Hindi naman kami umutang, sila ang umutang, sila nagpa-test, ginawa namin. 'Di ba dapat bayaran ninyo?... I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt out of respect to the president."
The Philippine Red Cross, in mid-October, suspended its COVID-19 testing of repatriated Filipinos due to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation's (PhilHealth) unpaid debt that, at the time, ran close to P1 billion.
The PRC resumed its COVID-19 testing services after the initial partial payment was made.
On Thursday, President Duterte criticized the PRC for stopping its COVID-19 tests.
In a meeting with Cabinet members, Duterte quipped "mukhang pera" or roughly translated as "greedy for money", while Health Secretary Francisco Duque III was discussing the country's COVID-19 figures.
Gordon said PhilHealth still owes Red Cross about P377 million.
He noted that some COVID-19 swab tests were priced as high as P20,000 at Philippine airports.
Under an agreement it signed with the government earlier this year, the PRC will charge P3,500 for the swabbing of frontliners and other agencies endorsed by the PhilHealth, which will cover the cost of their COVID-19 tests.