In a televised address aired late Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to pay back the P930-million debt of the embattled Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) after the latter halted its “free” COVID-19 testing services for Filipinos last October 14.

Assuring that the government would source the funds needed to settle the outstanding balance of PhilHealth to PRC, Duterte said: “Do not worry. We will pay. It will take time, but we will pay. We will look for the money. Priority natin dito is really medical equipment, medical attention.”

“I will tell Sen. (Richard) Gordon because he heads the Red Cross, I will pay for it. Money has always been a problem everywhere, especially in the government. We incurred expenses. We’re trying to make both ends meet,” he added.

Senator Bong Go earlier said PhilHealth had agreed to settle its unpaid debts with the PRC, saying overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), returning individuals, medical frontliners, and others should not be burdened with COVID-19 testing expenses.

Go, chairman of the Senate committee on health, said he is willing to mediate between PhilHealth and PRC to resolve the issue on unpaid services.

The senator added that he had spoken to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, PRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon and PhilHealth President Dante Gierran about the matter.

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