Duterte's promise to pay should be enough for Red Cross to resume COVID-19 testing – Palace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 21)— President Rodrigo Duterte’s personal assurance that the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation’s debt to the Philippine Red Cross will be paid should be enough for the latter to resume its COVID-19 testing operations, Malacañang said Wednesday.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that any doubts on the part of Red Cross can now be cleared after Duterte himself assured the state health insurer’s ₱930 million unpaid balance for testing services will be settled.

“I think that assurance should be enough for Red Cross to resume its testing,” Roque told The Source.

“I don’t think there’s any reason for the Red Cross to doubt that the President is committed to pay. And because of this, I believe that testing should continue because the Red Cross has been assured that they will be paid," he said.

Last week, the Red Cross said it will not resume conducting COVID-19 tests chargeable to PhilHealth unless the agency pays its overdue balance of ₱930.99 million.

PRC conducts most of the RT-PCR tests on returning overseas Filipino workers, who have been affected by this halt in operations. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Tuesday said over 4,000 OFWs cannot travel to their hometowns due to delays in their virus tests.

RELATED: Over 4,000 repatriated OFWs 'stranded' over COVID-19 test delays due to PhilHealth's debt

Roque earlier noted that the government is hopeful it can pay back at least half of the balance within the week or by next week.