Malacañang on Tuesday said the Commission on Audit (COA) could conduct an audit on the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) despite it being a non-government organization (NGO).

President Rodrigo Duterte recently said he wanted COA to audit PRC as he claimed Sen. Richard Gordon who heads it had been using its funds for his election campaigns.

In a Palace briefing, Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque said the COA could conduct special audits on NGOs on a case-to-case basis.

Presenting COA Circular No. 96-003, Roque said that special audits could be conducted “upon request by proper authorities or as determined by the chairman.”

Roque also cited Republic Act No. 10072 or the Philippine Red Cross Act of 2009, which gives the Philippine president the title of PRC honorary president and requires PRC to submit a report to the president annually.

“Para sa kaalaman ng lahat, simula 2016 ay wala pong sinumite ang PRC sa presidente ng Pilipinas na annual report na naglaman ng kanilang mga gawain at nagpakita ng kanilang financial condition tulad ng pinag-uutos ng RA 10072,” he said.

“May basehan ba ang sinasabi ni presidente na humingi sa COA ng special audit para sa PRC? Mayroon po!” Roque added.

Duterte has been critical of Gordon since the latter started investigating the government’s deals with pharmaceutical company Pharmally as head of the Senate blue ribbon committee. John Ezekiel J. Hirro