Duterte taps Calida to facilitate immediate audit of Red Cross

As his tirades against Senator Richard Gordon continue, President Duterte has ordered Solicitor General Jose Calida to ask the Commission on Audit (COA) to immediately start its audit on the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), alleging the presence of corruption in the organization.

President Rodrigo Duterte and Philippine Red Cross chairman Senator Richard Gordon (FILE PHOTOS/MANILA BULLETIN)

Duterte made the statement even as the Senate carried on with its investigation on the government's purchase of alleged overpriced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) supplies last year.

In his pre-recorded public address aired Thursday morning, Sept. 16, the President reiterated his intention to have the PRC audited.

"I am ordering the SolGen, si Calida, to write Aguinaldo a letter, ask Aguinaldo to conduct immediately an audit diyan sa Red Cross (on the Red Cross)," he said.

"Ang hinihintay ko lang (What I'm waiting for is)-- the next step would really be the letter to be delivered to COA regarding my request to audit Red Cross," he added.

President Duterte has accused Senator Gordon of using the PRC, an organization the latter chairs, as an election campaign kitty.

Malacañang has insisted that the COA can audit the PRC, despite it being a non-government organization, because it accepts funds from the government.

Last week, President Duterte said that there will be a long legal battle if the COA will refuse to audit the PRC's use of funds from the Philippine government.

"Any money belonging to the government of the Republic of the Philippines given to the agency, whatever be the nature, if they are operating here and you receive the money and spend it, you are accountable to the government and therefore an audit is in order," Duterte said in his pre-recorded address last week.

Duterte likewise threatened to stop the government's transactions with the PRC if Gordon will refuse to open up their records and submit itself to a state audit.

"In the coming days, I will write you a letter, to open up your records... Kung ayaw mo, mapipilitan akong (If you refuse, I will be forced) totally disassociate with you," the President said.

"I will stop the national government and all, from having transactions with you, in any manner. Hindi ako magbigay ng pera sa iyo (I won’t give you any funds). As far as I’m concerned, Red Cross does not exist. Either you submit an auditing procedure or we quarrel," he added.