Duterte commends Ombudsman’s efforts in PhilHealth probe

Marje Pelayo   •   September 22, 2020   •   180

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has nothing but praises for the Office of the Ombudsman on its investigation on the irregularities inside the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

In the duration of the probe, Ombudsman Samuel Martires suspended for six months 13 officials of the embattled agency.

The president said the relationship between the executive branch and the ombudsman has improved a lot.

“No other time na ang rapport ng Ombudsman sa Executive department ay maganda ang samahan. [There’s no other time that the rapport between the Ombudsman and the Executive department is smooth.] It’s a matter of human relations. How you present the problem. And I find Martires, a very reasonable man,” the President said. 

He said he also understands Ombudsman Martires’ desire to finally end the controversies in PhilHealth.

“Iyong (pinalabas) ng PhilHealth, sunod-sunod. Sabi ko, I think he’s trying his best to help us. Kung ganoon ang sitwasyon, at least we’re better off. At least, for now,” President Duterte said. -MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

DOJ to issue legal opinion on PhilHealth-Red Cross deal this week – Guevarra

Robie de Guzman   •   October 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) assured it will render this week a legal opinion on the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed between the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and state insurer Philippine Health Insurance Corp. for the conduct of COVID-19 tests.

“The DOJ is reviewing the MOA between the Philippine Red Cross and PhilHealth and will render an opinion within the week,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a message to reporters.

“We’re giving this our preferential attention,” he added.

Guevarra said the review is in response to the request of PhilHealth President and CEO Dante Gierran.

PhilHealth and PRC entered into a deal in May this year for the conduct of COVID-19 tests which will be charged to the state insurer.

The Red Cross, however, suspended the testing last week due to PhilHealth’s mounting debts.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself, in a televised speech Monday, assured to pay off the P930 million debt of PhilHealth to the PRC.

Meanwhile, PhilHealth spokesperson Rey Baleña reiterated that the agency has the funds to pay its obligations to the PRC.

The state insurer, however, wants to thresh out some issues on how to move forward with its partnership with Red Cross to ensure that members’ funds are properly handled and disbursed.

“Nais lamang nito na makatiyak na ang lahat ay nasa ayos bilang bahagi ng pangangalaga sa pondo ng mga miyembro,” Baleña said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

Duterte promises to settle PhilHealth’s multi-million debt to Philippine Red Cross

Marje Pelayo   •   October 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte assures the public that the government will settle what it owes to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing. 

The President said the government will present its plan to the Commission on Audit (COA) and will look for funds through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Itong Red Cross, wag ka mag-aalala, babayaran ito (To the Red Cross, don’t you worry. You will get paid). We’re just looking for a way to present the solution to COA pati sa Budget. Do not worry we will pay. It will take time but we will pay, we will look for the money,” he said during his public address, Monday evening (October 19).

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the government hopes to settle at least 50 percent of more than P930 million owed to PRC as soon as possible.

“We hope to settle at least 50% of that amount as soon as possible. And the rest also within reasonable time,” he said.

The arrears came from expenses incurred by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to the PRC in relation to the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction or RT-PCR testing for coronavirus infection.

The President reiterated that the government’s priorities amid the pandemic are providing medical attention to the Filipinos and procuring medical equipment.

He also believes that the PRC through its chairman Senator Richard Gordon will understand the government’s position on the matter.

“What I’m really trying to say is we will pay. Sabi ko kay Senator Gordon, because he heads the Red Cross, na babayaran ko ito,” the President said. 

Nonetheless, the government has assured the public that the COVID-19 testing in the country will not be affected by the debts owed to the PRC.

Specimens from returning overseas Filipino workers as well as from frontliners which used to be accommodated by the PRC will now be sent to more than 100 accredited COVID-19 testing laboratories in the country for processing. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

PhilHealth assures all COVID-19 tests formerly handled by PRC will be processed

Marje Pelayo   •   October 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) said its agreement with the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) concerning provisions on the conduct of COVID-19 testing is currently under review.

This is the reason why the state insurer was not able to immediately settle its arrears with PRC which ballooned to P930-million, PhilHealth Spokesperson Rey Beleña said.

Beleña added that they are now coordinating with various government agencies to help pay PhilHealth’s obligations.

“Patuloy ang aming coordination hindi lang sa Philippine Red Cross kundi siyempre sa mga relevant authorities in government agencies, [We are continously coordinating with the Philippine Red Cross and relevant government agencies],” Beleña said.

“Naghihintay na lamang kami ng kanilang magiging komento para makapag proceed tayo, mabayaran natin yung ating balanse sa Red Cross, [We are just waiting for their comments so we could proceed to paying our balances with Red Cross],” he added.

PhilHealth assured that all COVID-19 tests for returning overseas Filipino workers and frontliners will continue despite PRC’s suspension of its service to them.

All pending specimens formerly handled by PRC will be transferred and distributed to 105 PhilHealth-accredited laboratories for testing, Beleña assured.

“Nakahanda itong mga partners natin na ito na tumanggap ng mga specimen, [Our partners are ready to accept more specimens],” the official said.

“Iyong kanilang gagawing testing, covered iyan ng Philhealth. So wala ring babayaran yung mga kabababayan natin, [The testing that they will administer is also covered by PhilHealth, no fee is needed],” he added.

For its part, the PRC said it will continue to conduct COVID-19 tests of specimens coming from the private sector and local government units (LGUs) provided that the payments are up to date.

PRC has conducted over one million COVID-19 tests, representing 26% of the national test output.

On the other hand, PhilHealth said they have already shelled out a total of P1.6 billion for the more than 433,000 tests conducted by PRC. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Muling ipinapaala ng Philippine Red Cross na bukas pa rin ang mga PRC molecular laboratories upang magtest ng mga…

Posted by Philippine Red Cross on Thursday, 15 October 2020

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