President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night assured that the P930.99-million overdue balance of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) would be paid by the government.

“Ditong Red Cross, huwag kang mag-alala mabayaran ‘to. We are just looking for a way to present the solution to sa COA (Commission on Audit) pati sa budget (department),” Duterte said in a televised meeting with Cabinet members.

Last week, the PRC announced that it would suspend its free Covid-19 testing services for returning overseas Filipino workers, medical frontliners and Filipinos eligible to be tested under the health department’s guidelines due to PhilHealth’s non-replenishment of the P100-million revolving fund for the procurement of test kits and reagents from China.

“Do not worry. We will pay. It will take time but we will pay. We’ll look for the money,” Duterte said.

“Sabihin ko kay Sen. (Richard) Gordon, because he heads the Red Cross, na babayaran ko ‘to. Money has always been a problem everywhere, lalo na mga gobyerno,” he added.

The Philippines has spent P389.22 billion in for its anti-Covid-19 efforts as of Sept. 14, according to data from the Department of Budget and Management.

“So dumaan tayo nang malaking gastos at we are trying to make both ends meet. Ika nga kung parang lastiko talagang— binabanat natin nang husto — ‘yung resources natin,” Duterte said.

As of Monday, the Philippines has recorded 354,338 Covid-19 cases. John Ezekiel J. Hirro