Aguinaldo rebuffs Duterte: COA has no authority to audit Red Cross

Published September 3, 2021, 3:15 PM

by Ben Rosario

Commission on Audit Chairman Michael Aguinaldo on Friday, Sept. 3 said the state audit agency does not have any authority to audit the Philippine National Red Cross.

Philippine Red Cross

Aguinaldo made this statement in response to questions raised by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on the issue which was raised the other day by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The other night Duterte demanded a COA audit of the PNRC to see if the humanitarian organization has been spending funds correctly.

“The money that you have accumulated all these years would run into billions at ang gusto ko ang audit talaga na totoo ng Red Cross (and I want to see a real audit of the Red Cross,” he said.

Duterte’s demand for PNRC audit had been widely seen as having been triggered by his on-going feud with Senator Richard Gordon, PNRC chairman.

Gordon is the chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that has been investigating alleged multi-billion peso irregularities in the procurement of allegedly by government of overpriced face masks, face shields and other medical needs for COVID-19.

“Do you believe that COA has no jurisdiction to audit PNRC, a non-government humanitarian organization, contrary to the demand of the President,” asked Lagman during COA’s budget presentation before the House Committee on Appropriations.

Aguinaldo’s response: “We confirm we do not have the jurisdiction to audit Red Cross.” The chief state auditor said he can only “confirmL that they can audit payments made by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) to the PNRC but this is an audit of the state insurer and not international humanitarian body.

Duterte has been drawing flak on his statements about COA which has recently released annual audit reports that disclosed numerous irregularities committed by government agencies in the disbursement of funds and conducting financial transactions in 2020.

The chief executive had declared that he will have COA audited if he is elected vice president in the 2022 elections.

Opposition and administration allies in both the Senate and the House of Representatives declared that the executive department has no authority to do it, adding that COA is a constitutional body and independent from all branches of government.