Palace hopes Red Cross will continue COVID-19 tests despite PhilHealth issues
A doctor shows the Natch RNA Extractor along with other new machines inside the newly inaugurated molecular laboratory of the Philippine Red Cross at the Port Area in Manila in June 2020.
KJ Rosales
Palace hopes Red Cross will continue COVID-19 tests despite PhilHealth issues
Alexis Romero ( - August 17, 2020 - 8:32pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is hopeful that the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) will continue conducting coronavirus tests even if the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) has yet to settle its balance of more than P700 million to the humanitarian group.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said while the government has other testing laboratories, it would still be a big loss if PRC decides to discontinue the conduct of tests.

"We hope the testing will continue because we consider (PRC) as a very important partner of government in the testing capacity," Roque said at a press briefing on Monday.

Earlier, Sen. Richard Gordon said the PRC may suspend COVID-19 testing for PhilHealth members if the state insurer fails to settle its balance to the humanitarian organization.

Gordon, also the chairman of PRC, noted that the group cannot operate if it does not have enough test kits and funds to pay its medical staff.

Roque apologized to the PRC for the delay in the payment of the balance and gave assurance that the payment of PhilHealth's debts would be a priority.

"I am also reminding the (PRC) that the government used to have advances with them. We appeal for patience for the delays and I'm sure that because (PRC) is led by Sen. Richard Gordon, it will be a priority," the Palace spokesman said.

"Let's just wait until they thresh out the problem in PhilHealth," he added.

PhilHealth is embroiled in a controversy over the supposed billions in funds lost to fraudulent activities and the purchase of allegedly overpriced equipment. President Duterte has formed a multi-agency task force to look into the supposed anomalies.

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