Manila - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday criticized the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) after it was told it had stopped testing COVID-19 due to a government debt of $1.1 billion.
In a meeting with cabinet members, Duterte said "mukhang pera" or roughly translated "greed for money," while Health Secretary Francisco Duque III discussed the country's COVID-19 figures.
In his speech, Duterte did not express his point of view.
In mid-October, the Red Cross suspended COVID-19 testing for repatriated Filipinos because of the unpaid debt of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), which at the time was about £1 billion.
On October 27, the public health insurance company PhilHealth made a partial payment of £500 million to China for its £1.1 billion debt.
Q500M paid: PhilHealth has paid half of its debt to PH Red Cross for COVID-19 testing.
Then, on Thursday, it paid another P100 million in a partial payment.
PhilHealth paid another 100 million PH 100 million PH to the Red Cross for the COVID-19 tests.
China resumed COVID-19 testing services after the initial partial payment was made.
The "PhilHealth-Red Cross" debt series affects nearly one-third of COVID testing in PH: Group OCTA
Senator Richard Gordon, who heads China, has warned, however, that the humanitarian NGO will again halt its coronavirus testing program if PhilHealth does not pay for three days after taking a swab sample in the new tests.
Before ending its testing services, the People's Republic of China provided about 26 percent, or 1.15 million, of the total number of coronavirus tests performed in the country.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines is close to 390,000 as of Thursday, of which 32,773 are considered active.
As of Wednesday, more than 4.6 million people in the country had been tested for COVID-19.
Gordon has not yet responded to Dutherte's announcement at press time.