Palace denies threatening Red Cross as it refuses installment basis for gov't debt

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 27 2020 05:39 PM

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Malacañang denied Tuesday that it was threatening the Philippine Red Cross by looking for its replacement, after the organization rejected an installment basis for state medical insurer PhilHealth to settle its P1.1 billion debt for coronavirus tests. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque had said Monday that the health department was talking to 8 private laboratories about taking over the load of PRC, which was responsible for 1.1 million tests or about a quarter of the national screening output. 

"Kung talagang hindi natin mapipilit ang PRC bumalik maski ang offer po ngayo’y 50 percent ang babayaran, wala po tayong magagawa kung kinakailangan humanap po ng mga alternatibo at iyon lang naman po ang ginagawa natin," he told reporters. 

(If the PRC cannot be urged to return even if our offer is to pay 5- percent of the debt first, we cannot do anything but look for an alternative and that's just what we are doing.)

"Gumagawa tayo ng hakbang para tuluyan nating maasistehan ang ating mga kababayan. Wala po iyang pananakot," he added. 

(We are taking steps to continue assisting our compatriots. There is no threat there.)

PhilHealth earlier committed to settle its P1-billion debt last week, but the payment was delayed after the state-run insurance firm said it would first seek an opinion from the Department of Justice.

"Philhealth has been perfidious, reckless & they have been in violation of the contract so many times," Philippine Red Cross chair Sen. Richard Gordon said Monday. 

Whistleblowers earlier accused PhilHealth officials of pocketing some P15 billion in state funds and approving allegedly overpriced projects and reimbursements to supposedly favored hospitals.