PhilHealth debt to Red Cross hikes to P623 million - Gordon

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 02 2020 08:28 AM | Updated as of Dec 02 2020 10:52 AM

MANILA (UPDATE) - State insurance agency PhilHealth owes the Philippine Red Cross some P623 million for COVID-19 testing as this amount balloons per day, the humanitarian organization's chief said Wednesday.

"It’s really nonpayment of bills on time that is killing us here. They owe us, as of December 1, P623,321,000. It’s a moving target," Red Cross Chairman, Sen. Richard Gordon told ANC's Headstart.

Gordon said the Red Cross spends about P25 million per day for testing. This goes on top of the standing debt PhilHealth has.

PhilHealth has paid some P500 million in October and another P100 million in November. Latest reports indicate that as of November 5, the government agency has paid P700 million to the PRC.

"It keeps on moving and moving and we want to compress in such a way as in the original contract that they owe us only P100 million para hindi naman kami nasa alanganin," Gordon said.

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PRC temporary halted its testing of overseas Filipino workers, those arriving in seaports and airports, and from the mega swabbing facilities through local governments in mid-October after PhilHealth failed to pay close to P1 billion. It resumed operations after the state insurer paid the initial P500 million.

Gordon said PhilHealth President Dante Gierran had assured him that the agency has "plenty of money" and will pay PRC, but he is still worrying. 

He said PRC and PhilHealth agreed that the bill should be settled within 3 days upon receipt, but "right now, they’re averaging 9 days, sometimes even 12 days before they pay."

"I don’t want to be a hog and say unahin niyo ako, but you see, I have no choice. If they don’t pay us, then we are forced to stop. And when we are forced to stop, as you see, Manila is rising, and the Philippine Red Cross—hindi ako nagmamalaki, hindi po ako mukhang pera. Ang sinasabi ko lang po, 37 percent ng Manila ang tine-test ng Philippine Red Cross," he said.

(I don’t want to be a hog and say pay me first, but you see, I have no choice. If they don’t pay us, then we are forced to stop. And when we are forced to stop, as you see, Manila is rising, and the Philippine Red Cross—I'm not being boastful, I'm not being greedy. I'm just saying, Philippine Red Cross is testing 37 percent of Manila.)

President Rodrigo Duterte criticized PRC last month for being greedy after it stopped testing when PhilHealth ballooned to P1.1 billion. Gordon then said he was not offended by the remark, but it may have been predicated wrong.