MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday maintained that the Commission on Audit (COA) has the authority to look into the finances of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and its use of funds received from the government.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that under the Philippine Constitution, COA can scrutinize the use of funds by NGOs “receiving subsidy or equity directly or indirectly from or through the government.”
The PRC is a non-governmental humanitarian organization.
Roque said that several COA issuances also allow special audits on the PRC.
“May hurisdiksyon ho ba ang Commission on Audit sa Philippine Red Cross? Ang sagot, meron po,” he said in a Palace briefing.
Roque said the state auditor should particularly look into the agreement entered into by the PRC with Metro Manila mayors and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on the COVID-19 RT-PCR testing.
He also pointed out that under existing law, the PRC is mandated to submit a yearly financial report to the President as its honorary chairman.
Roque said that the agency has not submitted any report since 2016.
“Malinaw kasi po na nakalagay sa PRC charter na hindi ito maaaring kumita habang ginagampanan nito ang kanyang mandato… Simula 2016, wala pong isinumiteng ang PRC sa presidente ng Pilipinas na annual report, laman ng kanilang gawain at nagpakita ng kanilang financial conditions tulad ng pinag-uutos ng RA 10072,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier lashed out at PRC’s chairman, Senator Richard Gordon, for questioning the transactions made by the government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gordon is spearheading a Senate inquiry into the government’s alleged procurement of overpriced medical supplies and equipment last year.
Duterte also accused Gordon of using the PRC to further his political career.