Senator Richard Gordon said on Tuesday night the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) will now resume its COVID-19 testing on Filipinos arriving at the airports in Manila starting tonight.

GORDON 1 - PH Red Cross resumes COVID-19 tests tonight
Senator Richard Gordon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Gordon, president and CEO of the PRC, made the announcement after the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) paid the humanitarian organization P500-million as partial payment for its outstanding balance of P1.1-billion.

“Tonight, I have requested the secretary general and all our laboratories around the country to open it to PhilHealth again. And we are going to have the testing again tonight at the Manila international airport muna, then tomorrow regular testing will be conducted in full,” Gordon said in a hastily called online press briefing.

“So we are ready to test all the people who have not been tested. Yung mga nasa hotel ngayon, ipadala na nila at kaya namin i-test yan (Those who are still in the hotels now, send them to us immediately and we are ready to test them),” Gordon stressed.

The PRC earlier suspended all PhilHealth-related COVID-19 testing after the latter failed to pay its outstanding balance to the organization, which Gordon said now reached P1.1-billion.

According to Gordon, they will resume the testing once PhilHealth settles its debt with PRC and vows to follow the contract.

In a statement PhilHealth chief Dante Gierran said they will expedite the processing of the remaining balance subject to strict compliance with government accounting rules and regulations.

“PhilHealth takes exception to the insinuation that it is reckless and is playing on people’s lives. Its prudence in taking charge of its members’ hard-earned contributions is central to the state health insurer. Its exercise of judiciousness is to protect the people and their funds,” Gierran said in the statement.

“PhilHealth also recognizes and assures the accredited laboratories conducting the current OFW RT-PCR tests that it will expedite the processing of its payments upon submission of complete documentary requirements,” he said.

Gordon confirmed they have received PhilHealth’s payment after office hours.

According to Gordon, they were forced to cancel their flight to China after PhilHealth failed to pay their balance on time, but said they might “take off on Thursday” now that PhilHealth has made a partial payment.

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