Duterte has stern warning for COA chief amid alleged 'hesitancy' to audit PH Red Cross

President Duterte warned Commission on Audit (COA) Chairman Michael Aguinaldo that failure on his part to lead an audit of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) would constitute a violation not only the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, but of the Constitution itself.

President Rodrigo Duterte (left) and COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo (Photos from Malacañang, Zoom)

This, after Duterte got wind of alleged "hesitancy" from Aguinaldo to carry out an audit of the international aid organization.

In his taped "Talk to the People" public briefing late Monday night, Sept. 20, the Chief Executive noted that he had already told the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to ask COA to conduct the audit on PRC's finances.

The OSG basically acts as the "lawyer" of the Republic of the Philippines. The PRC is chaired by Senator Richard Gordon--Duterte's nemesis as of late.

"Now..there seems to be a hesitancy? Parang nag-hesitate si (It seems like he is hesitating)...well, again, that is a mandate of the Constitution even," Duterte, a lawyer, said.

" you fail to do that, Mr. Chairman, sorry that's a...above all others that you've failed to do, that is a violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices law," he said, referring to Republic Act (RA) No.3019.

"That is an omission, and that omission comes from the non-observance of a provision in the Constitution," added Duterte.

The provision in the 1987 Charter alluded to by the President was Article 9, which says that COA "shall have the power, authority and duty to examine, audit, and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenues and receipts and expenditures or uses of funds and property owned or held in trust by, pertaining to the government or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentality including government owned or controlled corporations with original charters on a post-audit basis".

Duterte previously said that this mandate covers subsidy or equity directly or indirectly received from or through the government.

He had also claimed that PRC receives money from both the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), thus making the private entity "auditable".

Duterte earlier said this month that it would be a dereliction of duty on the part of Aguinaldo if COA doesn’t audit PRC. There has since been steady pressure from Malacañang for COA to perform such audit.