SURIGAO del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers slammed the Philippine National Red Cross for blackmailing the government by stopping coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing for Filipinos.
In a statement, Barbers criticized the PNRC over its sudden decision to call off COVID-19 swab testing due to the PhilHealth’s alleged unpaid obligations amounting to almost a billion pesos.
Barbers, The chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, pointed out that the deal between PNRC and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) is illegal especially the alleged advance payment.
The House leader vowed to reveal the irregularities of the deal in the coming days.
“I seriously counsel the management of the Philippine National Red Cross to stop blackmailing the government. Please remember that every centavo in the coffers of the government comes from every Filipino taxpayer. It is very lamentable that due to the government’s alleged failure to pay its obligation on time, it has been accused of a lot of things,” Barbers said.
According to Barbers, unlike PNRC, the government has to check the veracity of claims made against it by any entity.
Also, the administration has to review the legality of the agreement made by and between PNRC and Philhealth.
“But this should not be taken against the government and blackmail it by stopping a supposedly public and noble duty of the Red Cross, Philippine or International. The people ultimately suffer, not the government. Be true to your purpose and existence.
If only for alleged unpaid dues you will resort to blackmailing, I wonder why the University of the Philippines has not evicted you yet from its property over which allegedly you have not paid rent for years,” Barbers added.
The solon stressed that PNRC has no right to impose on the government and demand payment for the alleged testings done on people because for one, it was learned that the PNRC has no valid contract with PhilHealth over the alleged mass testing to be charged to Philhealth.
“It was also learned that the illegal contract that PNRC and PhilHealth officials represented by Atty. del Rosario executed is for the ADVANCE PAYMENT to PNRC by Philhealth in the amount of P100M — in alleged compliance with the Bayanihan 1 where heads of relevant agencies were authorized to partner with PNRC in the distribution of goods and services invidental in the fight against Covid-19. However, in the memorandum issued by the Executive Secretary, all partnerships entered into with PNRC are “SUBJECT TO REIMBURSEMENT” and not advance payment as done by PhilHealth,” Barbers added.
“The MOA therefore between PhilHealth and PNRC is illegal as PhilHealth has no authority to enter into a MOA and grant PNRC the advance payments,” Barbers also said.