Red Cross urges PhilHealth to settle P571-m debt as cheaper test kits secured

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 29 2020 10:53 AM | Updated as of Nov 29 2020 12:09 PM

Arriving OFWs at the NAIA Terminal 1 undergo health protocols and fill out documents while being assisted by Philippine Coast Guard personnel before getting clearance from the Philippine Red Cross to get swab tests on October 28, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) on Sunday urged PhilHealth to settle its P571 million remaining debt as it secured COVID-19 tests from China at a lower price.

PRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said the non-government organization haggled with China to lower its COVID-19 testing to P3,409 so as not to exceed government's price of P3,800.

The Red Cross in October halted coronavirus testing for returning Filipino migrant workers as government's unpaid dues ballooned to P1 billion. The service resumed after partial payment was made.

Daily COVID-testing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is estimated at P4,800, Gordon said.

"Nagbabayad na sila (PhilHealth) ngayon P100 million every 10 days...At least nagababayad na ngayon. Nahihirapan din kami. Kahapon, may dumating - ang supply ng test kits, P200 million," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(They now pay P100 million every 10 days. At least they pay us now. We also struggle. Yesterday, a supply of test kits worth P200 million arrived.)

"Ang outstanding balance ngayon, P571 million. Sana kung mapapakiusapan idikit na yan... dahil natawaran natin yung China doon. Talagang dikdikan ang tawaran. Makukuha na natin nang mas mura ang test kits."

(PhilHealth's outstanding balance is P571 million. Maybe they can settle it...because we haggled with China. We will get test kits at a lower price now.)

Gordon said he would try to lower the price to P3,300. Coronavirus testing for walk-in patients at the Red Cross, however, will be priced at P3,800 beginning December 1.

"Pwera lang pag nagmamadali. Syempre, isisingit mo yan sa linya ng testing," he said.

(Except if you need it immediately. Of course, we will have to squeeze it in the testing queue.)

The Philippines as of Saturday reported 427,797 cases of COVID-19, with 31,402 active infections, 388,062 recoveries, and 8,333 deaths.

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