Harry Roque

Malacañang on Friday urged the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to resume its free Covid-19 testing services, citing President Rodrigo Duterte’s commitment to settle the P930.99-million overdue balance incurred by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp (PhilHealth).

The PRC halted its free Covid-19 testing services due to PhilHealth’s non-payment last Oct. 15. The PRC, responsible for a quarter of the country’s total tests, charges PhilHealth P3,500 for every test it administers.

“The President has given his commitment that the government will pay its obligation to the [PRC],” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.

Roque revealed that the Department of Justice had pushed PhilHealth to provide partial payment to the PRC while the “accounting reconciliation” between the PRC and PhilHealth aimed to clarify the cost of every test had yet to be completed.

“Having said this, we call on the PRC to resume its testing services,” Roque said.

“We likewise ask the public, including our stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and overseas Filipinos for their patience and understanding as we resolve this matter at the soonest possible time. In the meantime, we have already asked government and private laboratories to assist our OFWs and OFs in their RT-PCR testing,” he added.

About 4.000 Filipino repatriates have been stranded in Metro Manila due to the PRC’s stoppage of free Covid-19 tests, according to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

On Wednesday, Roque said half of PhilHealth’s debt would be paid within this month.

President Rodrigo Duterte during his public address aired on Oct. 19 assured the public that PhilHealth’s overdue balance would be paid by the government. John Ezekiel J. Hirro