The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will settle its PHP930 million (US$19.114 million) debt to the Philippine Red Cross, the state insurer’s chief Dante Gierran vowed today.
Gierran said this days after the Red Cross announced that it will stop providing free COVID-19 tests to returning overseas Filipino workers, frontliners, and passengers in seaports and airports because the PhilHealth has failed to subsidize the tests. In a statement, the Red Cross said that the decision was a “difficult” one to make but said it “does not have unlimited resources to replenish the testing kits for its laboratories unless PhilHealth, its major creditor, settles its lawful obligations.”
The state insurer’s chief told CNN Philippines that the PhilHealth was unable to pay because certain rules of procurement were not followed when it forged an agreement with the Red Cross.
“One thing is certain, the PhilHealth owes money to the Philippine Red Cross. We recognize the help of [the] Philippine Red Cross to the government particularly our brothers that are to be tested with COVID,” Gierran said.
“One is thing is sure also, we will pay for that. Regardless of whether the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) will assume a negative position on the matter… the PhilHealth will settle that. We have money for that,” he added.
Gierran said that PhilHealth is “indebted” to the Red Cross and that he has gotten in touch with its chief, Senator Richard Gordon. However, he said he still has to “clear some legal issues affecting the memorandum of agreement that was entered earlier between the management of PhilHealth and the Philippine Red Cross.”
The Philippines has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, with 348,698 recorded as of yesterday. This includes 6,497 deaths and 294,161 recoveries.