Red Cross willing to help in COVID-19 vaccination — Gordon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 4)— The Philippine Red Cross is willing to lend a helping hand in the country's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, its chairman Senator Richard Gordon said on Monday.

"We can do that, doon na lang kami, magva-vaccinate na lang kami," Gordon said in an interview with CNN Philippines' The Source. "Kami na lang ang magva-vaccinate ng let's say a million people."

"Napakaselan nito, pinag-aaralan iyan, at kailangan ng Department of Health ng tulong para sa ganoon, ang pagi-implement niyan ay maayos at talagang effective," he added.

[Translation: We can do that, we can do vaccination. We can vaccinate, let's say a million people. This is very delicate, it should be studied, and the Department of Health needs help so that the implementation can be really organized and effective.]

But Gordon said the PRC, which also conducts coronavirus testing, cannot commit to another deal for now especially since the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation has yet to settle its over ₱762 million debt to the humanitarian organization.

"I support that, and we're going to do that in the Red Cross kung papayagan kami," Gordon added. "But again, ayoko munang pumasok diyan dahil ang laki pa ng utang ng PhilHealth. Hanggang hindi pa nababayaran iyan, we cannot go and commit ourselves again."

[Translation: I support that and we're going to do that in the Red Cross if permitted. But again, I don't want to enter [into another agreement] because PhilHealth still has a huge debt. Unless the debt is settled, we cannot go and commit ourselves again to another.]

The chairman, however, noted that the PRC would also be reaching out to international Red Cross societies in a bid to help the country's vaccination program.

As of January 3, PhilHealth's debt to the PRC has ballooned to around ₱762.8 million, Gordon said. He called on the state health insurer to settle at least ₱500 million of the balance "right away"— as he warned of roadblocks in the organization's testing operations.