Vice President Leni Robredo said the Philippines Red Cross’ massively scaled down COVID tests cast some doubt over the fewer number of case infections that is being reported daily by government.
“Nakakabahala ito…sobrang layo yung number of tests na kino-conduct ng Red Cross ngayon. ‘Yung average daily sobrang bumaba (This is worrisome…There has been a huge difference in the number of tests being conducted by the Red Cross. Their daily average plummeted),” Robredo told anchor Ely Saludar during her “BISErbisyong Leni” program over DZXL radio Sunday.
“Baka hindi tuloy reflective ‘yung nirereport na number of positive cases. Baka mababa ngayon dahil mababa din ‘yung tests na kino-conduct. Sana hindi ganun. Sana mababa ‘yung reports dahil bumaba na talaga ‘yung transmission (The number of positive cases being reported may not be reflective of the truth. Maybe it’s low because the number of tests being conducted is also low. I hope that’s not the case. I hope the reported cases are low because transmission is low),” she said.
The Liberal Party chairman noted that the reason for the way fewer tests on the part of the PRC was because of the huge sum of money – some P931 million – that the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.or PhilHealth owes the humanitarian agency.
The Philippines had one of the longest lockdowns in the world amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the conduct of reliable swab tests has become an important facet of the so-called “new normal.” PhilHealth is supposed to shoulder the cost of these swab tests, which cost P3,500 each.
Robredo said overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been among those affected by the scaled-down tests. “Maraming OFWs na natetengga dito sa Manila dahil hindi sila natetest (A lot of OFWs have been stranded here in Manila because they couldn’t be tested).”
Citing information from Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the lady official said that only 300 OFWs are being tested a day, from a high of 3,000.
“Mukhang nakakalimutan nanaman ‘yung P15 billion na nawawala eh (Looks like the missing P15 billion is being forgotten),” Robredo said, alluding to the allegations of massive fraud and corrupt practices at the PhilHealth which grabbed headlines in past months.
“Ito yung dahilan kung bakit hindi natin dapat kalimutan. Maraming hindi natetest dahil maraming utang ‘yung PhilHealth (This is the reason why we shouldn’t forget about that. A lot of people couldn’t be tested because of PhilHealth’s debt),” she stressed.
The State-run health insurance firm had committed to pay its P931-million debt Monday.