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Procurement

PhilHealth cites procurement issues over unsettled PH Red Cross debt

Red Cross stops PhilHealth-funded COVID-19 testing over insurer’s P930-M debt

A Red Cross worker takes a swab sample of a patient at the Philippine Red Cross laboratory in Mandaluyong City in April. —INQUIRER PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The failure of the Philippine Health Corporation (PhilHealth) to settle its debt owed to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) stemmed from procurement issues in an agreement the agency had entered, the state insurer’s chief Dante Gierran said Friday.

The PRC has stopped conducting coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests for the government after PhilHealth failed to settle some P930 million it owed for previous tests.

“The PhilHealth is, at the moment, is indebted to Philippine Red Cross at that amount. Not because we don’t want to pay. We want to pay, only that we have to clear some legal issues affecting the memorandum of agreement that was entered earlier between the management of PhilHealth and the Philippine Red Cross,” Gierran said in an interview over CNN Philippines.

Gierran explained that his legal team failed to see “compliance” to the procurement law in the agreement entered by the PhilHealth and the PRC, prompting him to practice “prudence” and seek the opinion of the Department of Budget and Management.

“Merong utos doon na kailangan sumunod doon sa regulasyon ng procurement law—something po na hindi nakita ng aking legal team dito sa mga papel, dito sa PRC,” Gierran said.

(There’s a rule that says that we need to abide by the regulation of the procurement law—something that my legal team did not see in the papers on the agreement with PRC.)

Even with the effectiveness of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act then, which allowed emergency purchases, Gierran said some requirements were still needed to be complied with.

“Even under the rules of emergency purchases ay merong sinasabi na it has to be published, it has to be at the portals of the government procurement policy board, the amount [has to be indicated]. ‘Yun po ang hindi nasunod,” Gierran said.

(Even under the rules of emergency purchases, there are rules stating that it must be published, it has to be at the portals of the government procurement policy board, the amount. That was not followed.)

“It’s not enough that there is a directive for us to do this, and then we will not protect, we will not make safety nets for the disbursement of this money. Otherwise, I will be committing another round of imprudence just like what happened to previous management and something that I will not do,” he went on.

Starting this Friday, the PRC will no longer conduct tests on arriving overseas Filipino workers, passengers in airports and seaports, individuals asking for COVID-19 tests in government swabbing facilities, front-line health, and government workers, and others included in the expanded testing guidelines of the Department of Health.

But the PRC assured it would continue perfoming tests on those who booked through its hotline; those from private companies and organizations; and those endorsed by local government units and other government agencies whose payments are “up to date.”

/MUF



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