Duterte criticizes Red Cross for resuming COVID testing after partial payment of debt

Published November 6, 2020, 9:44 AM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

President Duterte criticized the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), calling it “mukhang pera”  after it resumed its COVID-19 testing services following the partial payment of PhilHealth’s debt of P1.1 billion.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

In a meeting with Cabinet members in Malacañang on Thursday evening, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III informed the President that PRC has resumed its testing operations after the payment of PhilHealth’s debt.

“Nabayaran na po ang PRC at nagbukas na po silang muli kaya patuloy na po ang kanilang pagsusuri ng mga swab specimen (The PRC has been paid so they are now examining swab specimens again),” he said.

Duterte, however, appeared to be not pleased with the development and instead criticized the PRC.

“Mukhang pera,” he said.

The Filipino phrase “mukhang pera” usually refers to a person who does things only for money.

According to Duque, the PRC’s decision to halt tests shouldered by PhilHealth affected the number of tests conducted in the country. He said the void left by the PRC was filled by 11 public and private laboratories that tested returning overseas Filipinos.

“Nagkaroon po nang pagbaba sa bilang ng mga tests na isinagawa. Kasama sa mga ito ay ang ‘yung nagkaroon ng (There was a decrease in the number of tests conducted in the country is part of this is due to the) partial suspension in the acceptance of new patients by the PRC,” Duque said.

“Dahil dito (Because of this) while we initially projected na bababa ng at least 20 percent ang ating total testing capacity, ang pag-distribute ng test sa 11 laboratories ay nakatulong para makabawi doon sa hindi po na-test dahil po sa pagsara o paghinto ng PRC (that there will be a 20-percent decrease in our total testing capacity, the distribution of tests to 11 laboratories helped to catch up following the suspension of PRC’s services),” he added.

A week before October ended, President Duterte promised PRC that the government will pay the nearly P1.1 billion that PhilHealth owes the organization.

Roque earlier said that the government will pay at least 50 percent of its debt to PRC the soonest time possible. The PRC, however, wanted full payment.

This week, it was revealed that the outstanding debt of PhilHealth incurred an additional P16 billion after the PRC resumed its COVID-19 testing operations for the government.