Palace says COA has jurisdiction over Red Cross and could audit NGO

Philippine Red Cross members and volunteers simulate the prepositioning of an emergency field hospital during a rapid deployment exercise July 15, 2021 at Quezon City Memorial Circle. Jonathan Cellona, ​​ABS-CBN News / File

MANILA – Malacañang argued on Tuesday that state auditors had the power to examine the finances of the Philippine Red Cross, a non-governmental humanitarian organization whose president had drawn the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte over a investigation of transactions related to the pandemic.

This, even though the COA itself had told a legislative body that it could not do so.

Under the constitution, the Audit Commission can monitor the use of funds by NGOs “receiving grants or own funds directly or indirectly from or through the government,” said Duterte spokesman Harry Roque. .

Several COA shows authorize special audits on the Philippine Red Cross, he said during a press briefing.

Roque said a law also requires the PRC to submit an annual financial report to the president, its honorary president. Duterte’s spokesperson claimed the organization had not done so since 2016.

“Can we be the Philippine Red Cross audit commission? Well, meron po,” Roque said.

(Does the Audit Commission have jurisdiction over the Philippine Red Cross. The answer is that it does.)

He said a particular issue the COA could look into was why the PRC would have charged 3,500P for COVID-19 testing, when the rate should be 2,000P since some materials and machinery have been given.

On August 30, Duterte attacked Senator Richard Gordon, who is also the president of the Red Cross, for leading a Senate investigation into alleged overpriced medical equipment purchased by the government in 2020.

He then accused Gordon of using the PRC to advance his political career. Gordon has expressed his intention to run for president, potentially becoming an opponent of the Duterte faction flag bearer of the ruling PDP-Laban party.

The PRC on Friday said it “just stepped up” when authorities failed to respond to the need for COVID-19 testing, which it said “should be the government’s task.”

“It didn’t take long for the PRC to perform most of the country’s testing, at its peak, covering 45% of the needs, taking over for the government,” the PRC Board of Governors said.

He noted that the humanitarian organization has so far carried out 4 million COVID-19 tests, the highest in the country.

The PRC added that it “allowed their finances to bleed operational expenses and supplies related to testing” because the government failed to pay off its skyrocketing debt.

The ACO said it could not investigate the organization.

“The only thing we can audit are the payments from PhilHealth to the Red Cross, but in this case what we are actually auditing is PhilHealth making those payments,” said the COA chairman. , Michael Aguinaldo, to lawmakers at a House hearing on Friday.

Rodrigo Duterte, Richard Gordon, Red Cross, COA, Audit Commission, Policy, RPC, Blue Ribbon Senate


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Thelma J. Longworth

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