MANILA, Oct 17 (Mabuhay) — The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will not pay its debt of almost P1 billion to the Philippine Red Cross until all legal issues regarding their memorandum of agreement are settled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
New PhilHealth President Dante Gierran said he would not pay due to questions regarding the MOA.
“To be prudent about it, I will not pay unless everything is legally cleared,” Gierran said.
Gierran was referring to the agreement made by PhilHealth, under former President Ricardo Morales, and the Red Cross in May.
The Red Cross said that under the MOA, “a revolving fund of P100 million was supposed to be replenished immediately after it had been depleted.”
“PhilHealth never replenished this revolving fund. In fact, it is not PRC advancing its fund for testing services as a result of the non-payment of PHIC,” it added.
Though the initial P100 million was not replenished, the Red Cross continued to process COVID-19 tests until PhilHealth’s debt reached P930,993,000.
In August, former anti-fraud legal officer Thorrsson Montes Keith said that the agreement between the two agencies should be regularized as it was prohibited by law.
This was echoed by detained Senator Leila de Lima, who said that PhilHealth is not allowed to give advance payment without the approval of the President.
In defense, the Philippine Red Cross previously said that all its transactions with PhilHealth were legal as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act covered the procurement of the test kits.
According to Gierran, the MOA was not implemented correctly by the previous management of PhilHealth as it was not published on the online portal of the Government Policy Procurement Board and PhilHealth.
Gierran wants the Department of Justice to first issue a legal opinion on the issue.
“Yung emergency negotiated procurement na requirement ay hindi po nakita natin sa PhilHealth dito sa opisina. Wala tayong makitang ebidensiya o papel na nagsasabi na mayroong pag-sunod ang dating management ng PhilHealth doon sa itinatakda na emergency negotiated procurement act,” Gierran said.
For its part, the Philippine Red Cross expressed hope that the issue will not end up in court.
“We hope we don’t go into legal action. Actually, maganda naman ito. I think our chairman, Senator Gordon, is coordinating with the PhilHealth and the DOH and I hope this matter is resolved,” Red Cross Governor Atty. Rodolfo Reyes said. (MNS)