Gordon slams PhilHealth over failure to settle debt to Red Cross on promised date

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2020   •   266

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Richard Gordon, chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), on Tuesday lashed out at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) after it failed to pay its debt on Monday.

“PhilHealth owes PRC P1.1 billion already. No payment as yet in spite of their numerous announcements that they will pay,” Gordon said in a statement.

Gordon said the PRC supposedly has a scheduled flight to China on Tuesday to procure COVID-19 test kits and equipment worth $6 million to $8 million but had to cancel since no payment had been made.

He said the PRC would have to re-schedule the flight and wait for another week to secure permits from the Chinese government.

With its failure to pay, Gordon blasted PhilHealth for being “very reckless,” and “very irresponsible.”

He also lamented PhilHealth’s giving of excuses on such as serious and critical matter.

“It’s up to them. They don’t pay, kung may mangyari diyan, then sila bahala. Nasa konsensya nila yan kapag may namatay,” he said in a separate media interview.

The PRC last week stopped the conduct of the PhilHealth-covered COVID-19 testing due to the agency’s outstanding balances.

Gordon said he is “totally perplexed” on why PhilHealth chief Dante Gierran is reluctant to pay PhilHealth’s debt, saying that his “fear” may be delaying the settlement.

In a message, PhilHealth said it will release a statement once it has issued the cheque for the Red Cross.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said the government will find another way if the PRC will not heed its call to resume testing despite the proposal for PhilHealth to provide partial payment.

Gordon earlier insisted that the PRC must be paid in full.

“Kung talagang hindi natin mapipilit ang PRC na bumalik, maski ang offer po ngayon ay 50 percent na babayaran, wala po tayong magagawa. Kailangan pong humanap tayo ng mga alternatibo,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)



Gordon lauds Locsin for filing diplomatic protest vs China’s new law

Robie de Guzman   •   January 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A senator on Thursday commended Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. for filing a diplomatic protest against a new law passed by China that allows its coast guard to shoot foreign vessels in the contested areas in South China Sea.

“I commend Secretary Locsin for taking a very important and valiant action by standing up for our rights. He did right by our country, and we support him wholeheartedly,” Senator Richard Gordon, chairperson of the Senate Committee on justice and human rights, said in a statement.

Locsin on Wednesday said he has filed a diplomatic protest against China for its new law, which he called a “verbal threat of war” to any country that defies it.

China’s legislative body last week passed the law that allows its coast guard to undertake all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea.

“When another country claims the oceans surrounding us, which we claim, even threatens to demolish our fishing boats or fishing boats of any country that get to that ocean or that sea, this is a serious cause for concern. This is a shot in the bow of all the claimants in the territories,” Gordon said.

Other senators have also expressed concern over the measure that could endanger the lives of Filipino fishermen who venture in the disputed parts of the West Philippine Sea.

The law is expected to stoke tensions anew in the waters where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes the Philippines and 3 other South China Sea claimants, are currently negotiating for a more binding code of conduct in the contested waters. 

PHL new testing, quarantine protocols to take effect Feb. 1 – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A new set of COVID-19 testing and quarantine protocols for travelers allowed entry to the Philippines will be implemented starting February 1, Malacañang announced on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the new policy was adopted by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) on Tuesday.

Arriving passengers, regardless of their origin, shall be required to undergo facility-based quarantine upon arrival.

They shall then undergo RT-PCR test on the fifth day from their date of arrival in the country, unless the passenger shows symptoms at an earlier date while on quarantine.

Those who tested negative shall be endorsed to the local government unit of destination where the passenger shall continue the remainder of their 14-day quarantine.

“Appropriate patient management shall be observed as outlined in the guidelines of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and the Department of Health Omnibus Guidelines on Prevention, Detection, Isolation, Treatment and Reintegration Strategies for COVID-19,” Roque said.

The Philippines has imposed travel restrictions on foreign passengers from 35 countries as a precautionary measure against the reported new variants of novel coronavirus disease.

The travel restriction will last until January 31 unless further extended by the government.

Gordon files bill to expand country’s pool of vaccinators

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 21, 2021

Manila, Philippines — Senator Richard Gordon has filed a bill seeking to expand the country’s pool of vaccinators for the immunization program of the government.

Gordon, in a statement, said Senate Bill No. 1987 will allow training for other members in the medical field, as well as, non-medical practitioners.

“Since we have a limited number of doctors, nurses, and midwives that will aid in the COVID-19 vaccination program, we filed a bill that expands the pool of vaccinators of the DOH by training other professionals such as dentists, veterinarians, medical technologists, and even those without a medical background to be vaccinators,” he said.

Section 1 of Senate Bill No. 1987 states that non-medical practitioners that will be part of the training will be allowed provided that they will be given the appropriate training, certification and authority by the Department of Health (DOH), and that they will perform their duties under the supervision of a duly registered physician and for a limited period only contingent upon the existence of the national health emergency for which it is called.

Non-medical practitioners will be given appropriate training, certification, and authority by the Department of Health (DOH).

The filed bill also states that the trained individuals will perform their duties under the supervision of a duly registered physician and for a limited period only, subject to the existence of a national health emergency.

“If we expand the manpower for the vaccination program, the government’s target of inoculating 50 to 70 million Filipinos to be able to achieve herd immunity or population immunity can be attained,” Gordon added.

According to the DOH, only 617,239 health care workers from both public and private health institutions will be able to help in administering the COVID-19 vaccines. -AAC

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