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PRC not untouchable



Bong Go says Philippine Red Cross transactions with government can be audited to safeguard public funds

The government maintains the right to investigate the financial transactions of the Philippine Red Cross with any government agency in so far as it involves the use of public funds.

Senator Bong Go explained that President Rodrigo Duterte, the honorary president of the Philippine Red Cross, is within his rights to request a probe on the annual reports submitted by the organization, including the execution of a multi-million-peso Memorandum of Agreement signed between the PRC and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. at the start of the pandemic for Covid-19 testing.

“Just look into what’s stated on the law of Philippine Red Cross: ‘At the end of every calendar year, submit to the President of the Philippines an annual report containing its activities and showing its financial condition. Because Red Cross is also being aided by government funds. There are expenses by Red Cross funded by Philhealth,” Go explained.

When asked about the possible conflict of interest, Go clarified that he only deemed it necessary to point out that the Chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Sen. Richard Gordon, who is leading the investigation into the government’s handling of Covid-19 funds, is also the chairman of PRC, which also has financial engagements with the government. Hence, this could affect the impartiality and credibility of the probe.

“It’s his personal decision. What I said is there might be a conflict of interest because it is common knowledge that the Chairman of Blue Ribbon Committee is also the Chairman of Philippine Red Cross,” Go said.

Go reiterated his deep respect for Sen. Gordon and his other colleagues in the Senate. With regard to the speech he gave at the Senate Session on 31 August, Go clarified that he only meant to voice his sentiments at what he felt was a lack of respect for fairness and due process.

Despite these issues, the Senator maintained that he is ready and willing to work with his colleagues to get to the bottom of the issues surrounding the use of Covid-19 funds. As the Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, he vowed to continue helping in the government’s pandemic response with strict vigilance to safeguard public funds.

The Senator reaffirmed his and the President’s enduring commitment to the fight against corruption. He stressed that any individual found guilty, regardless of affinities and associations, must be held accountable in accordance with the law. Fairness and due process must be upheld in all these, according to Go.