Senator Richard J. Gordon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) warned yesterday that he would be forced to cancel his scheduled flight to China on Wednesday to get some $6 million to $8 million worth of test kits and other COVID-related equipment if the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) fails to pay its P1.1 billion indebtedness today, October 27.
‘’PhilHealth owes PRC P1.1 billion already. No payment as yet in spite of their numerous announcements that they will pay,’’ Gordon said in a statement released Tuesday morning.
Gordon lashed out at Philhealth for being ‘’perfidious, reckless, and they have been in violation of the contract so many times.’’
He said PRC is waiting for the PhilHealth payment as the Chinese always require cash payment.
‘’Because of PhilHealth’s promises to pay, we had chartered a flight to China for tomorrow,’’ he said.
‘’We thank Secretary (Teodoro) Locsin (Jr.) of the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) for helping us with the permits from the Chinese government, but due to PhilHealth’s non-payment, we do not have the money to pay for the test kits and other equipment worth $6 million to $8 million dollars just for this particular shipment,’’ he said.
‘’We will have to cancel the flight tomorrow if no payment is made,’’ he added.
Gordon said that at the moment, the PRC is ‘’almost out of test kits. To replenish, we need to be paid.’’
He also said that the PRC is holding the construction of new provincial molecular laboratories such as the ones in Quezon , Albay, Pangasinan, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and Laguna.
‘’We have been operating provincial laboratories as requested by the implementing agency of the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) in Batangas , Clark , Cebu, Negros, Zamboanga, and CDO. So far, we have lost money in all of them but we need to test there otherwise COVID-19 might go everywhere. Almost completed labs are in Passi for Panay island, and Isabela,’’ he said.
Gordon lamented that PhilHealth keeps giving excuses on such a serious and critical matter.
‘’First, they say they want to be sure the contract is OK. They needed DBM (Department of Budget and Management). The President told them to pay. Then it was referred to DOJ (Department of Budget and Management) who told them the contract is valid and they must pay,’’ he said.
The PRC recently stopped COVID-related tests after PhilHealth failed to pay it for past services.
He recalled that two days ago, the PRC tested the frontliners , doctors , nurses of Fabella hospital who had seven patients infected.
The PRC found an additional four health workers infected.
‘’They need to swab the folks the health workers dealt with and we will test them if needed. For the rest, how can we test if we do not recover our costs. PRC prays we do not get a severe spike,’’ Gordon said.
Gordon said the US, UK, France, Russia, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands are all getting bashed by COVID.
‘’By the way, all PRC testing to be paid by PhilHealth are brought by PCG (Philippine Coast Guard), PNP (Philippine National Police) at times, OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) public hospitals and others approved by DOH (Department of Health). They are all delivered and signed and received by PRC. We do not test any other entities to be paid by PhilHealth. We do test the private folks and they pay P4,000. PhilHealth is charged by agreement P3,500. PRC has advanced over a billion and we roll over previous delayed payments to resupply,’’ he said.
He emphasized that the PRC covered the first humongous wave of people to be tested.
‘’Philhealth (officials) should be ashamed of themselves for betraying our vulnerable people. They have been cheating the people since they started operations overcharging and overpaying,’’ Gordon said.
‘’Those who have been cheating before COVID-19 are still there. PhilHealth is playing with people’s lives. A lot more people may be spreading COVID because of the severe lack of testing,” he added.