Commission on Audit

COA to audit gov’t funds received by Red Cross – Duterte

Loreben Tuquero
COA to audit gov’t funds received by Red Cross – Duterte

TESTING LABS. Senator Richard Gordon inspects the COVID-19 molecular testing laboratory at the Philippine Red Cross Center in Mandaluyong City on April 7, 2020.

Duterte says COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo signed a memorandum directing office heads to submit a compilation of specific audit findings on government funds and subsidies received by the Philippine Red Cross

Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Michael Aguinaldo has ordered the audit of government funds received and utilized by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), according to President Rodrigo Duterte.

“I am pleased to learn about the prompt response of COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo to our call to audit the Philippine Red Cross,” Duterte said in his recorded address on Monday, October 4.

In particular, he said Aguinaldo signed a memorandum dated September 23, directing “all sector heads, directors, and OICs of COA’s central and regional offices and all others concerned to submit to the Fraud Audit Office [of the] Special Services Sector a compilation of their audit findings per sector on the subsidies and/or fund transfer received and utilized by PRC covering from a period of January 2016 to September 2021, and to submit a duly-signed summary schedule of subsidies and/or funds received by PRC on the same period.”

Duterte said he told Solicitor General Jose Calida to ask Aguinaldo to conduct the audit. “Solicitor Calida wrote Aguinaldo, and Aguinaldo’s response was a prompt one, by initiating immediately an auditing program,” Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“This is really a very welcome development and I commend our Solicitor General… as well as COA Chairman Aguinaldo for paving the way for the long-overdue audit of the Philippine Red Cross,” he said.

Because PRC is a private entity, the COA cannot conduct a whole audit of the humanitarian agency.

Aguinaldo, however, ordered a look into the government funds and subsidies extended to PRC.

The President earlier warned Aguinaldo of a “long legal battle” if he refused to conduct an audit of the PRC, saying it would be “dereliction of duty.”

COA audits government agencies, but it can also conduct special audits of NGOs “upon request by proper authorities or as determined by the Chairman,” according to a COA Circular from 1995.

Republic Act No. 10072 or the Philippine Red Cross Act of 2009 recognizes the PRC as an autonomous NGO auxiliary to Philippine authorities in the humanitarian field and requires it to submit annual reports to the President containing its activities and showing its financial condition.

PRC audit reports are conducted by independent, private, third-party audit firms.

PRC Chairman and CEO Senator Richard Gordon has been getting heavy flak from the Duterte since the Senate blue ribbon committee started investigating government pandemic purchases.

The committee chaired by Gordon has found out that Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation, a small company, has cornered billions of government contracts during the health crisis.

The Senate investigation has so far revealed multiple alarming findings on the government’s transactions with Pharmally, which may be covered by the anti-graft law, senators say.

The Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management favored the company despite its substandard supplies and its undercapitalization, among other factors.

A recent tirade by the President was triggered when Gordon said the Senate wouild keep on investigating “till kingdom come.” – Rappler.com

Loreben Tuquero

Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.