Malacañang on Thursday said the government would pay its P623.3-million debt to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

“Magbabayad po ang national government. Napatunayan naman po ng national government na hindi po tumatalikod sa obligasyon ang national government,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque told reporters.

“Kinakailangan lang pong i-verify at kinakailangan po iyan sang-ayon pa rin doon sa three-tiered payment scheme ng PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corp.),” he added.

Roque made the statement a day after PRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said the government’s debt ballooned past the half-billion-peso mark anew due to its non-payment for daily testing services.

“It’s really non-payment of bills on time that is killing us here, because they owe us now, as of Dec. 1, P623 million,” Gordon told ANC.

“The Red Cross cannot just grin and bear it. We don’t want to stop but if we’re not paid then we will have to scale down our operation or maybe close down some of our laboratories,” he added.

In October, the PRC suspended its free Covid-19 testing services due to PhilHealth’s non-replenishment of the P100-million revolving fund for the procurement of test kits and reagents from China and non-payment of overdue balance. John Ezekiel J. Hirro