The Department of Justice (DOJ) has submitted to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) its legal opinion concerning the deal the state health insurer has with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) for the conduct of testing for the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“We have sent it to PhilHealth this noon,” said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday, Oct. 23.

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra 1024x683 - DOJ submits legal opinion on PhilHealth-Red Cross COVID-19 testing agreement
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra (TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO /MANILA BULLETIN)

“But we’d rather let them disclose the DOJ opinion themselves, if they must,” said Guevarra who declined to give details of the contents of the legal opinion.

The secretary earlier said that PhilHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Dante Gierran sought the DOJ’s legal opinion on the memorandum of agreement (MOA) that the previous PhilHealth management entered into with the PRC.

Gierran sought the review of the MOA to determine if there is any violation of Republic Act 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The PRC has already stopped conducting COVID-19 tests for PhilHealth since Oct. 15 due to around P930 million the state health insurer owes.

Gierran, who retired as director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), earlier said that the state health insurer has the funds to pay the PRC but pointed out that the MOA should also follow the Government Procurement Reform Act.

He said PRC was picked under emergency procurement bidding instead undergoing the required competitive public bidding under the law.

“In regular procurement what is required is competitive bidding which should rather be relaxed under the emergency procurement bidding. But then, even it is relaxed, there are still requirements to be done,” he previously said during an interview over CNN Philippines.

Gierran said his legal team found that the MOA did not follow the procurement law due to the absence of publication at the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) and at the PhilHealth website.

Regardless of whether the DBM will have a negative legal position, Gierran assured that PhilHealth will pay its debt to PRC.

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