Palace eyes formal request for COA to audit Red Cross

The Commission on Audit (COA) should expect to receive a formal request from Malacañang to audit the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) anytime soon.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who is in New York, USA, speaks during the a virtual press briefing Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021 (Screenshot from Facebook live)

"Inaasahan po namin na magkakaroon ng pormal na request po iyan (We expect to have a formal request for that)," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press briefing Tuesday, Sept. 14 when asked what concrete steps the Palace has done to ensure that the PRC undergoes audit.

"Hindi ko lang po alam kung napadala na at kung na-receive na sa COA (I'm not sure if the formal request has been sent or it has been received by COA). I will verify," Roque quickly added.

Roque's confirmation notwithstanding, it's safe to say that the audit of PRC is among the things that President Duterte would like to see happen in the waning months of this six-year term.

Duterte and Senator Richard Gordon--the chairman of PRC-- have been locked in a war of words for the past few weeks. It began as a result of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee's investigations on allegations of corruption in government, the fairness of which was questioned by Duterte.

Gordon chairs the Blue Ribbon panel.

The Chief Executive has since zeroed in on PRC , which, despite being a non-government organization (NGO), has reportedly enjoyed funding from the state. It is for this reason that COA should audit PRC, Duterte said.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo has supported the position of Duterte, who also threatened that he would cut all government transactions with PRC.

Asked to specify what these transactions are, Roque said, "Siguro po yung mga pinopondohan ng gobyerno. Dahil kung hindi po talaga sila magpapa-audit kung paano po nagagasta yung mga binabayaran galing sa pondo ng gobyerno eh bakit naman po natin ipagpapatuloy yan? (These will probably include those being funded by government. Because if they avoid the audit of the expenditures they used the government funds on, why should we even continue funding them?).

"Kung wala po kasing tinatago, bakit ayaw magpa-audit? (If you're not hiding anything, why refuse to be audited?)" Roque said, repeating a previous statement.

President Duterte has said that COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo would commit a dereliction of duty if he fails to audit PRC.