SENATE Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri was worried over the country’s COVID-19 testing capacity after the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) temporarily stopped tests chargeable to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) due to the state health insurer’s failure to settle its “ever-increasing outstanding balance.”
Zubiri plans to talk to PhilHealth President Dante Gierran to ask him to settle the almost P1 billion balance to PRC as he reminded that almost 60 percent of the Department of Health’s testing capacity came from the PRC.
“Kailangan po namin pakiusapan si President Gierran. Makikita naman po niya there is no hanky-panky diyan. We are subject also to audit,” said Zubiri.
“Malaking hadlang ito for testing capability and capacity. We are making an appeal also sa PhilHealth baka puwede nila mapabilis. Ito ease of doing business din ito para mapabilis na nila ang proseso,” he added.
On Friday, Gierran said PhilHealth would not pay its almost P1 billion PRC debt until all legal issues regarding their memorandum of agreement are settled amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Sayang naman dahil ang Red Cross nasa buong Pilipinas. Meron sa Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Bacolod, Cebu. Meron laboratories and it’s not like private hopsitals, Red Cross nasa buong Pilipinas. Gumagastos talaga para maglagay ng labs, may machines for COVID testing, swab testing kits. Sayang naman, sayang,” he said.
However, Zubiri conceded that there wasn’t much they could do given the size of the debt.
“Kailangan din tumigil muna para mabayaran [at] baka maubos ang donasyon ng ating donors,” he said.
For his side, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he understood why the PRC decided to stopped testing.
“Wala namang bawal na pag-aralan nang husto dahil pera ng bayan ito. Pero tama ri si Sen. Gordon, dalawang buwan na nilang pinag-aaralan iyan,” he said.
“Malaking setback iyon pero hindi mo masisi si Senator Gordon dahil may obligation din siya to keep PRC viable. Malaking problema iyan kaya kailangan pag-usapan nang husto,” he later added.
Drilon said they needed to talk about the exact amount needed.
“Totoo ba na sa susunod na dalawang taon ay maging bangkarote na ang PhilHealth… Kaya po importante na magkaroon kami ng sapat na panahon para tingnan talaga kung magkano ang kailangan. Kaya sana rin ay mabigyan kami ng tamang information so we can decide,” he said.