ABS-CBN News

Rosa Rosal pursues fight for full Red Cross audit

Posted at | Updated as of 01/04/14 8:07 AM

MANILA - After her letter to the board of governors of the Philippine Red Cross last October was seemingly ignored, Rosa Rosal is again appealing for a full financial audit of the institution.

This time Rosal is directing her appeal for support to more than 100 Red Cross chapter administrators all over the country.

In her email to the chapter administrators, she said that in 63 years of serving the institution, she has “never experienced so much pain until this alleged P200 million anomaly came into the picture."

Furthermore, Rosal wrote that the Philippine Red Cross “has never been divided ever since it was founded" because of the apparent refusal of the board of governors to investigate the allegations thrown by former chief accountant Jeric Sian against Red Cross Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang.

In her latest appeal for a full financial audit by a "reputable multinational auditing firm," Rosal called for support for her “crusade” saying at least three Red Cross chapters, Davao, North and South Cotabato have already joined her cause by submitting their written position letters.

She also revealed in her letter that more chapters will be sending their statement of support soon.

Sian wrote the board early this year to protest the alleged questionable transactions authorized by Pang that include the purchase of whistles worth about P1.8 million, baller IDs that bear the name of Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon at the time when Gordon was launching his presidential candidacy in 2009 and 2010, “WoW tarpaulins” that highlighted tourism partnerships with various local government officials again bearing the picture of Gordon, among others.

Sian was terminated four months after questioning the alleged anomalous transactions amounting to more than P200 million.

He was also sued for libel for allegedly posting his accusations on the Internet.

This decision prompted Rosal to support Sian and write the board last October asking for an immediate audit of the institution’s transactions. Rosal is also a member of the board of governors.

DICK GORDON ON THE SPOT

In a recent interview with ABS-CBN News, the chapter administrator of Red Cross in South Cotabato, Dixie Villar, openly supported Rosal’s call for a financial audit.

Villar, who has been with the Red Cross for over 20 years, was promptly suspended by the management for making alleged “malicious remarks” against the institution.

A former member of the board of governors, Jan Bo, was also charged with libel in court after he admitted in a board meeting that he was the source of a “white paper” on the alleged questionable transactions that circulated in the Internet last year.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Bo, who then represented the National Youth Commission in the board of governors said that he did that to put
a name to the previously unsigned position paper, a condition that Gordon imposed before consenting to investigate the alleged anomalous transactions involving Pang.

Bo also asked the board to probe Pang on various expenses that include party expenses for Pang’s birthday bash in an expensive bar in Manila, and Pang’s personal cellphone bills.

Gordon and Pang refused ABS-CBN’s request for an interview on the allegations.

But several Red Cross officials, including lawyer Lorna Kapunan, who is also a member of the board of governors, defended Pang and Gordon by saying that the matter has already been investigated.

The probe, which was based on the earlier accusation of then Governor Bo, cleared Pang of any wrongdoing.

RELATED TO ELECTIONS?

In a recent press conference, Kapunan, Rodolfo “Inky” Reyes, the board’s legal chief and a long time associate of Gordon and five other Red Cross Governors took turns in lambasting Sian, Bo and Villar for their alleged unwarranted allegations.

Reyes told the media that Rosal is being used by some Red Cross governors who are eyeing Gordon's position as chairman of the board.

Elections for the members of the board are scheduled third week of January this year.

Reyes and Kapunan also said that they have already contracted the services of a reputable auditing firm to satisfy Rosal and others.

In fact, they said the Red Cross is spending P2 million for the audit.

WHO'S USING WHO?

On the issue that Gordon is using the Red Cross for his own political ambitions, lawyer Oscar Palabyab, also a long time Gordon associate, said it is the other way around. It is the Red Cross who is using Gordon to raise more funds for disaster victims and survivors, he said.

But senior Red Cross governor Leslie Espino said this is not true.

Espino told ABS-CBN News that the investigation that cleared Pang was based only on the earlier allegations by Bo, and not on the recent allegations of chief accountant Sian which involved a much bigger amount.

He said that what they want is a financial audit, not the “systems” audit now being done that is looking only into the organizational flaws of the institution.