Malacañang on Wednesday said half of the P930.99 million-debt incurred by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth) to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) would be paid within this month.

The PRC had to stop providing its free Covid-19 testing services due to PhilHealth’s non-payment. The PRC charges PhilHealth P3,500 for every test it administers.

“I understand naman that the Red Cross cannot continue functioning unless it also has its cash requirements and that’s why we give utmost priority to settling at least 50 percent,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source.

The PRC is responsible for about a quarter of the country’s total Covid-19 tests administered.

Roque said both sides had to complete an “accounting reconciliation” to clarify the cost of every test.

“We have to differentiate still between those tests conducted using machines and testing kits paid for by Red Cross and those using donated machines and testing kits,” he explained.

“I think that assurance should be enough for Red Cross to resume its testing,” he added.

The government has called on hospitals, agencies and laboratories making use of donated testing kits and machines to lower testing prices.

President Rodrigo Duterte during his public address aired on Monday assured the public that PhilHealth’s overdue balance would be paid by the government.

Because of the stoppage of free testing, which had covered returning Filipino migrant workers, about 4,000 repatriated overseas Filipino workers have been stuck in Metro Manila. John Ezekiel J. Hirro