Probe sought on P200M Red Cross funds

from a report by Henry Omaga-Diaz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 11 2013 12:08 AM | Updated as of Oct 03 2016 03:25 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) - Former officials of the Philippine Red Cross want a probe into how donations are used.

This, amid allegations the agency's secretary general is using some of the money for personal use.

Former Red Cross official Rosa Rosal in October wrote to the humanitarian organization's board of governors.

In her letter, Rosal complained about supposedly questionable transactions using P200-million in Red Cross funds.

The alleged culprit, Red Cross Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang, whom Rosal said should be suspended.

In a phone interview, Rosal told ABS-CBN she only wants to protect the institution she served for more than 63 years.

Rosal based her complaint on an earlier letter from former Red Cross chief accountant Jeric Sian, who also questioned how some of the funds from donations were used.

The funds were allegedly spent on "WOW" tarpaulins of former senator and now Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon from 2007 to 2009, as well as for plastic whistles that supposedly did not go through public bidding and did not have the approval of the board of governors.

Ambulances were also reportedly bought using Gordon's pork barrel and the purchase allegedly did not go through the proper process.

Sian has since been fired and sued for libel by the Red Cross.

John Bo, a former member of the Red Cross board of governors, also raised a complaint about some transactions and policies. This allegedly resulted in his removal from the board.

"Inako ko iyung mga naglalabasang dokumento, kaya pinatanggal ako imbes na imbestigahan nila," he said.

Red Cross funds were allegedly used to pay for Pang's birthday celebration at a bar in Manila, parking rental at a private condominium, a wedding gift, and personal cellphone bills.

"Hindi dapat ganito donation ang pera para sa mga disaster victims," Bo said.

However, Oscar Palabyab, legal consultant for the Red Cross, said the board already cleared Pang after she explained to them where the funds went.

Palabyab said the purchase of ambulances was approved by the board and the DSWD.

He added that Pang used her personal money to pay for her birthday celebration although the receipt indicated it was charged to the Red Cross.

In a resolution issued by board secretary Corazon Alma de Leon, the members of the board of governors also declared they had trust and confidence in Pang.

Palabyab believes that those hurling accusations against Pang want to ruin the reputation of the Red Cross.

The Red Cross has opened its books to an independent auditor, saying it wants to remove all doubts. - with reports from Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News, ANC