MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday announced the Commission of Audit has directed its officials to audit subsidies and fund transfers supposedly received by the Philippine Red Cross from government.
Citing COA chairman Michael Aguinaldo, Duterte said a memorandum dated September 23 directed agency officials of its central and regional offices to submit their findings on how the supposed financial contributions from government, from January 2016 to September 2021, were spent by the Red Cross.
Under the memorandum, COA officials were also ordered to submit a "duly signed summary schedule of subsidies and/or funds received by the PRC in the same period."
Duterte, who has been at the heels of Philippine Red Cross chairman Sen. Richard Gordon over a Senate probe since last month, welcomed the directive of Aguinaldo.
The President commended Aguinaldo and Solicitor-General Jose Calida, whom Duterte had tasked to instruct the COA to look into Red Cross finances.
Duterte, meanwhile, also demanded that the COA collect about P146 million "notice of disallowance" issued against the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority when Gordon was still its chair. He again accused the senator of pocketing P86 million.
"Siya 'yung humawak nung P86 (million). Napunta sa kamay niya (He handled the P86 million. It went through him)," Duterte said.
The President earlier gave the order to COA, through Calida, to look into Red Cross operations after Gordon began to lead a legislative inquiry into the Duterte administration's pandemic transactions, including the procurement of allegedly overpriced anti-virus masks and face shields.
This included grilling former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang and former Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao, Duterte's former election lawyer, over allegedly shady deals involving state funds.
Yang and Lao are among those being linked to the allegedly anomalous procurement of overpriced pandemic supplies.
Angered by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee probe, Duterte accused Gordon of using the PRC to promote his political plans. The senator is known to be eyeing another term for the Senate, and at one time, was open to run for president.
Aguinaldo earlier said state auditors had no jurisdiction over the Red Cross as it is not a government agency. But Duterte, in response, said the COA would be in dereliction of its duty if it did not audit the humanitarian organization.
The PRC Board of Governors has said it does not receive any funds from government.