President Duterte said he was “pleased” to know that the Commission of Audit (COA) has agreed to audit the subsidies received by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), chaired by Senator Richard Gordon, who has led the Senate’s inquiry into the government’s alleged anomalous deals with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.
Gordon has been the subject of Duterte’s tirades in recent weeks because he has apparently been “witch-hunting” in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s inquiry into Pharmally’s multi-billion government contracts.
“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 during a taped public address on late Monday night, Oct. 4.
He earlier reached out to Aguinaldo through Solicitor General Jose Calida.
Duterte said Aguinaldo has signed a memorandum last Sept. 23 to direct all sector heads, directors, and officers-in-charge of COA’s central and regional offices to submit to its fraud office division “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″.
Aguinaldo, Duterte noted, ordered “prompt action and compliance”.
“This is really a very welcome development. And I commend our Solicitor General for his quick, as well as, COA Chairman Aguinaldo for paving the way for the long-overdue audit of the Philippine Red Cross,” the Chief Executive said.
The state auditors earlier said it has no jurisdiction to audit the PRC because it is a non-government organization (NGO). However, a COA circular said it is also authorized to audit funds released to NGOs upon the request by proper authorities.
Gordon, who used to be Duterte’s ally, is looking into contracts amounting to almost P10 billion that the government entered into with Pharmally, a newly registered company that has low capitalization. It bagged billions worth of government contracts despite the lack of funds.
Pharmally is allegedly owned and headed by a Singaporean who is a wanted criminal in Taiwan. It is also partly funded by Michael Yang, Duterte’s ex-economic adviser in Malacañang.
The President came to Yang’s defense multiple times, saying that he’s a big-time Chinese investor in Davao City.