Senator Richard Gordon on Monday insisted that the P100-million the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) paid in advance to the Philippine Red Cross for the COVID-19 testing as part of their contract is above board.
Gordon, president and CEO of the humanitarian organization, said that as far as he is concerned, the said amount is “a rolling account.”
“They keep saying we will pay, we will pay, ganyan yan, all throughout, they said they will pay the P100 million. Hindi advance yun eh, kuwan yun eh rolling account yun eh. Rolling account, because obviously we cannot supply if we do not pay our supplier right?” Gordon explained during a virtual interview.
“So iyon para hindi tayo mapapatiran ginagawa naming yun para hindi maubos yung supply. They violated that after paying P100-million, ang nag advance baliktad Red Cross and nag advance—billions ang in-advance namin (it was reversed and Red Cross made the advance payment—we advanced billions),” he pointed out.
Gordon also pointed out that he never approached the government to tap the PRC for the COVID-19 testing.
“I did not poke a gun on their heads. I never went to them. They went to me. I never went around telling them meron kaming testing…sumama kayo all the Cabinet members (we have a better testing machines, all you in the Cabinet should come with me),” he pointed out.
The senator said that when the government discovered they had automated machines, they struck a deal with the PRC saying “ we will test with you please.”
“Sabi ko no, bayad muna bago kami mag test because gobyerno kayo eh. Mahirap kayo singilin (I told them, please pay us first before we do the test, because you’re government, it’s hard to ask you to pay),” Gordon narrated.
“There’s nothing illegal about it (P100-million) because unang-una, na test na yun, against sa almost P1.5-billion na tinest namin ngayon na hindi pa nila binabayaran, (that they have not yet paid),” he stressed.
“Lopsided di ba? Lugi ba sila? Kami ang lugi, lugi ang tao (Isn’t it lopsided? Did they lose anything? We’re the ones at a loss, the people are the ones who suffer),” he pointed out.
Gordon also said the P100-million advance payment is also covered by the two Bayanihan emergency laws.
“All of these have been approved by the President and Executive Secretary, by the Cabinet, by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force). All of a sudden, (Dante) Gierran comes in and he said, why will they say that this is illegal? There’s nothing illegal about it,” he said referring to the new PhilHealth chief.
Earlier, Surigao Del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said the PRC has no legal basis to demand the supposed P1.1-billion debt of PhilHealth for the COVID-19 tests it conducted, claiming that the contract between the PRC and PhilHealth is illegal since the state health insurance agency is not allowed to make advance payments, only reimbursements.
But Gordon said it was clear Barbers does not understand and has not studied the issue.
“That’s up to him, hindi ko na siya papatulan. Di ko na siya papansinin, (I will just ignore him),” he said.