President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday asked the Commission on Audit (COA), an independent constitutional body, for its audit report on the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), which is a non-government organization (NGO).
Duterte accused its chairman, Sen. Richard Gordon, using PRC as its “milking cow” as he allegedly used its funds in his previous election campaigns.
“Ulitin ko, iyong ginawa mo, you threatened government that you will stop, you stop testing people so that they will die just because you are not paid and the money that you have accumulated all these years would run into billions at ang gusto kong makita ‘yung audit talaga ng totoo ng Red Cross,” Duterte said in the taped “Talk to the People” that was aired Thursday evening.
“And maybe I can — I will demand, the executive department will demand that we be furnished copies of your audit taken by COA, and COA to give us the copy so that we can review also what you have audited at tingnan ba namin kung tama o hindi,” he added.
Several social media users created memes and poked fun at the president, who is also a lawyer, for not knowing that looking into the finances of the humanitarian organization is beyond the commission’s mandate.
Filipino cartoonist-satirist “Cartoonist Zach” also illustrated a pretend conversation between Duterte and Gordon.
— Cartoonist ZACH (@cartoonistzach) September 3, 2021
What the law says
In his speech, Duterte did mention PRC is supposed to be a non-profit organization and a humanitarian organization
“Red Cross is supposed to be a humanitarian organization, but when the government was struggling to source funds, you threatened to stop testing,” he said.
However, under the 1987 Constitution, the COA is mandated to examine and audit government agencies and bodies.
Meanwhile, PRC is “recognized as the voluntary, independent and autonomous non-governmental society auxiliary to the authorities of the Republic of the Philippines in the humanitarian field,” according to Republic Act 10072, signed in 2010.
The law also states that the organization is tasked to “submit to the President of the Philippines an annual report containing its activities and showing its financial condition.”
“Upon request by proper authorities or as determined by the Chairman,” the COA can conduct special audits on NGOs based on a circular released in 1995.