Duterte’s ‘sovereign guarantee’ on PhilHealth debt payment should ensure continuity of Red Cross testing services, says Roque

Published October 29, 2020, 4:00 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government has given a “sovereign guarantee” to pay the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation’s (PhilHealth) debts to Philippine Red Cross to keep their partnership on the conduct of coronavirus testing in the country, Malacañang said Thursday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
(JOEY DALUMPINES / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said such guarantee came from President Duterte himself when he vowed the government will settle the obligations to Red Cross over the coronavirus tests charged to the state health firm.

PhilHealth recently made a P500 partial payment for its debt to Red Cross after the latter suspended the coronavirus tests due to the state corporation’s non-payment. The remaining balance will reportedly be paid by PhilHealth according to government accounting rules and regulations.

“Patuloy naman po ang pag-uusap sa panig ng PhilHealth at ng Red Cross. Nagbayad nga po, kagaya ng pinangako ng PhilHealth at ng Office of the Executive Secretary ng kalahati doon sa sinisingil ng Red Cross (Discussion between PhilHealth and Red Cross continues.

The partial payment to Red Cross was made as promised by PhilHealth and the Office of the Executive Secretary),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Thursday when asked about the payment for the remaining balance to Red Cross.

“At kampante naman po tayo na since, it was no less than the President that said that the Philippine government will pay, eh ano pa ba ho ang hihingin pa ng PRC. Iyan po ay sovereign guarantee from the mouth of the President himself. So inaasahan po natin na patuloy po ang magiging partnership ng gobyerno at ng Philippine Red Cross (And we are confident that since it was no less than the President that said that the Philippine government will pay, what can the PRC ask for more? That’s the sovereign guarantee from the mouth of the President himself. So we expect the partnership between the government and Red Cross will continue),” he said.

Nonetheless, Roque said the government has taken steps to boost the testing efforts for returning overseas Filipino workers.

He said the private sector-led Project Ark has offered to conduct polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for OFWs in its 11 laboratories. The Philippine Airport Diagnostic Laboratory has also expressed readiness to provide services to the returning Filipinos, he added

On allegations made by Senator Richard Gordon that he was meddling on the PhilHealth-Red Cross issue, Roque said he was merely speaking on behalf of the President.  He said the President’s main concern is to ensure the testing efforts to effectively detect, isolate and treat persons with the illness. 

 
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