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Mukhang pera: Pres. Rodrigo Duterte calls out Philippine Red Cross with one-liner on live TV

Yes, the President really did call out the Philippine Red Cross, who has done a quarter of the country’s COVID-19 swab tests, “mukhang pera”.

President Rodrigo Duterte is known for off-the-cuff, one-liner comments even on live broadcasts, but was his most recent a step too far?

In a rare occurrence, Malacañang decided to go back to showing weekly IATF meetings late at night.

Whilst nothing new was announced, a line seems to have caught the eye of netizens as Health Sec. Francisco Duque III was reporting the status of the country’s COVID-19 tests.

Yes, the President himself just called the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) mukhang pera (greedy).

This comes after Duque reported that the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) finally coughed up half of its near-P1 billion debt to the PRC, which has done 25% of the country’s COVID-19 tests. Another P100 million was paid on Thursday, November 5.

“Nabayaran na po ang PRC at nagbukas na po silang muli kaya patuloy na po ang kanilang pagsusuri ng mga swab specimen,” Duque said.

The PRC is responsible for testing thousands of incoming OFWs, some of which have had to stay in Metro Manila for days due to the PRC stopping its COVID-19 tests.

Netizens were not pleased with the President’s off-the-cuff remark, especially in the face of the pandemic.

Some pointed out how that quip was a slap to the face of Senator Richard Gordon, who is also the PRC chairman.

Some even pointed out how this was nothing compared to the billions of pesos PhilHealth officials swindled from Filipinos—officials which include the health secretary himself.

Parallels were also drawn to Filipinos who borrowed money from someone else—and had the guts to be angry whenever the person they owed money to comes a calling.

Netizens also pointed out the obvious: COVID-19 testing was never free to begin with, and the PRC needed money to buy test kits that the Department of Health—headed by Duque—has endorsed; i.e. those from China.

Meanwhile, PRC chair Sen. Richard Gordon on Friday said he was not offended, “I’m not offended. I think the President should really be careful. Minsan hindi niya alam that the statement is not really presidential.”

“I think he (Duterte) was misled by the statement. The way the predicate was laid out by Sec. Duque was wrong… Sabi niya, ‘Nagtest na ulit nung binayaran,'” the senator added.

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