PhilHealth pays half of its P1.1 billion debt to PRC

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020   •   357

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Tuesday said it has already paid half of its P1 billion debt to the Philippine Red Cross for the cost of COVID-19 tests it conducted.

In a statement, PhilHealth said it has released on Tuesday P500 million as partial payment to the Red Cross.

It also assured to expedite the processing of the remaining balance following strict compliance to government accounting rules and regulations.

The agency’s announcement came after PRC chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Senator Richard Gordon lashed out at PhilHealth over its failure to release any payment despite its previous commitment to do so on Monday.

The PRC last week stopped the conduct of the PhilHealth-covered COVID-19 testing due to the agency’s outstanding balances.

Gordon earlier said the state insurer’s delayed payment has put on hold the PRC’s supposed flight to China for the procurement of COVID-19 test kits and other equipment.

The senator also called PhilHealth “very reckless,” and “very irresponsible” for failing to settle its debts and for giving excuses on such a serious and critical matter.

But PhilHealth president and CEO Dante Gierran said the agency is only exercising its mandate to protect their members and their funds.

“PhilHealth takes exception to the insinuation that it is reckless and is playing on people’s lives. Its prudence in taking charge of its members’ hard-earned contributions is central to the state health insurer,” Gierran said in a statement.

“Its exercise of judiciousness is to protect the people and their funds,” he added.

Gierran also assured accredited laboratories conducting the current RT-PCR tests for overseas Filipino workers that the state insurer will expedite the processing of its payments “upon submission of complete documentary requirements.”

PRC opens drive-thru saliva testing sites in two Metro Manila malls

Marje Pelayo   •   February 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has rolled out drive-thru saliva testing sites at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City and at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

Those who wish to get tested for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may proceed to the said malls provided they have pre-registered or booked online for the test on

The drive-thru saliva testing, which opens from 9:00AM to 5:00PM is priced at P2,500 — much cheaper than a swab test which costs P3,800.

PRC Chairman Senator Richard Gordon said, the price may be further lowered depending on the demand.

“Kung marami ang magpapa-saliva test gusto ko ibaba pa hanggang P1,000 kung kakayanin,para lingo-linggo magpapa-test ang tao,” he said.

“What is the purpose? Our purpose is to get people working in the malls, driving buses, jeepney, tricycles and people who want to work in factories,” he added.

He said saliva testing is almost similar to swab testing which is considered the golden standard of the World Health Organization (WHO) for COVID-19 testing.

Prior to the saliva test, the public is advised to fast – do not eat or drink, do not smoke or gargle anything – 30 minutes before the test.

The process will take about three to four hours before the result is received.

Aside from malls, the PRC is also coordinating with agencies in the private sector who are interested in availing the saliva testing. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

PRC eyes COVID-19 saliva testing in malls

Marje Pelayo   •   February 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Red Cross will launch its drive-thru saliva COVID-19 test in malls starting February 3.

The PRC believes saliva testing is easier, more convenient and cheaper.

According to former health secretary now PRC’s molecular laboratory head Dr. Paulyn Ubial, the agency now has 3,100 samples since they started the program on January 25.

To further expand their reach, the PRC targets to put up saliva testing boots in parking areas of shopping malls.

Pwedeng mag drive thru. Ibig sabihin dadaan ang kanilang sasakyan at bibigyan sila ng sample collection kit at  doon sa loob ng sasakyan dudura o idu-drool yung kanilang laway (It can be drive-thru where they can stay inside the vehicle and will be given a sample collection kit for their spit),” Ubial said.

“Kapag nakakuha na sila ng one to two milliliters i-aabot na lang nila ang lalagyan na vial doon sa ating mga saliva collectors (Once they have filled one to two milliliters of the vial, they can just hand it over the vial to saliva collectors),” she added.

Aside from malls, the PRC is also looking to bring the project to factories, offices, schools and public transport stations for jeepney and bus drivers.

Tourist destinations such as Boracay, Siargao, El Nido in Palawan and Bohol are also future venues for the initiative.

Gusto nating ma-test ang mga tao bago sila parang pumasok sa eskwela, pumasok sa trabaho, pumasok sa mall, para nang sa gayon ay mahiwalay na natin ang positive  sa negative (We want to test the people before going to school, work and malls so that we can immediately separate the positive cases from the negative ones),” Ubial added.

For now, the PRC has the capacity of up to 20,000 saliva tests which can expand to 42,000.

According to the agency, saliva testing is cheaper by 50 percent than swab test. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Gordon lauds Locsin for filing diplomatic protest vs China’s new law

Robie de Guzman   •   January 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A senator on Thursday commended Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. for filing a diplomatic protest against a new law passed by China that allows its coast guard to shoot foreign vessels in the contested areas in South China Sea.

“I commend Secretary Locsin for taking a very important and valiant action by standing up for our rights. He did right by our country, and we support him wholeheartedly,” Senator Richard Gordon, chairperson of the Senate Committee on justice and human rights, said in a statement.

Locsin on Wednesday said he has filed a diplomatic protest against China for its new law, which he called a “verbal threat of war” to any country that defies it.

China’s legislative body last week passed the law that allows its coast guard to undertake all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.

“When another country claims the oceans surrounding us, which we claim, even threatens to demolish our fishing boats or fishing boats of any country that get to that ocean or that sea, this is a serious cause for concern. This is a shot in the bow of all the claimants in the territories,” Gordon said.

Other senators have also expressed concern over the measure that could endanger the lives of Filipino fishermen who venture in the disputed parts of the West Philippine Sea.

The law is expected to stoke tensions anew in the waters where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes the Philippines and 3 other South China Sea claimants, are currently negotiating for a more binding code of conduct in the contested waters. 


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