Gordon 'afraid' to have Red Cross audited, says Duterte

Senator Richard Gordon does not want the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) to undergo audit because he is "afraid" of having his "offenses" exposed.

President Rodrigo Duterte (left) and Senator Richard Gordon (Photos from Malacañang, MANILA BULLETIN)

President Duterte came up with this conclusion as he continued his verbal attacks against the senator during his latest "Talk to the People" public briefing.

In his taped briefing that was aired Wednesday morning, Sept. 8, Duterte accused Gordon of committing wrongdoing in his capacity as PRC chairman, a position that he has held onto for years.

"So itong sabi ni Gordon na hindi siya pwedeng ma-audit is takot ka (Gordon says he can't be audited because he is afraid). Takot ka kasi alam mo, marami ka nang atraso (You're afraid because you know that you've committed many offenses) all throughout the years and you cannot possibly have the time to cover up everything also," he claimed.

The Chief Executive raised the need to audit the PRC earlier this month. Duterte said he was unhappy with the way the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Gordon has been conducting inquiries on the alleged irregular use of public funds in connection with the government's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic response.

The argument against the audit of PRC supposedly has to do with its being an international non-governmental organization (NGOs), meaning it's not part of Philippine government.

However, Duterte, a lawyer, came prepared for the briefing. He cited a provision in the existing Charter as well as the PRC law itself to refute Gordon's contention.

"First, Article 9 of the 1987 Constitution says that the Commission on Audit (COA) 'shall have the power to an 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'," he said, reading from a piece of paper.

"These include such non-governmental entities receiving subsidy or equity--pera (money)--directly or indirectly from or through the government which are required by law or granting the institution to submit to such audit as a condition or subsidy or equity," he said.

Duterte said that PRC receives money from both the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

The President continued: "In Republic Act (RA) 10072 or the Philippine Red Cross Act, the PRC is recognized at the voluntary, independent, and autonomous non-governmental society auxiliary to the authorities of the Republic of the Philippines.

"It is provided in the said that the shall at the end of every calendar year submit to the President of the Philippines an annual report containing its activities and showing financial condition."

"Senator Gordon hindi mo ito ginawa, wala akong nabasa galing sa iyo. Kailangan yan. Alam mo bakit? (Senator Gordon, you failed to do this, I haven't read anything from you. That's needed. You know why?)" asked Duterte.

"'Pag ang pera galing sa gobyerno binigay sa kamay mo para i-implement mo isang project or whatever, gastusin mo sa isang tasking dito (Once public funds are entrusted to you for the implementation of a project or whatever task), it becomes...the receiving entity or the person automatically is responsible for that money," he explained.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, another lawyer, earlier gave his take on why and how the PRC should be audited.