MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he was pleased by the “prompt” response of Commission on Audit (COA) chair Michael Aguinaldo over the former’s request to audit the finances of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).
“I am pleased to learn about the prompt response of COA chair Michael Aguinaldo to our call to audit the Philippine Red Cross,” he said in a public address.
This, after Duterte instructed Solicitor General Jose Calida last Sept. 16 to pen a letter addressed to Aguinaldo requesting a PRC audit.
“Ang inatasan ko kasi dito to ask Chair Aguinaldo to conduct the audit si SolGen Calida (I assigned SolGen Calida to ask Chair Aguinaldo to conduct the audit). He wrote Aguinaldo and ang sagot naman ni Aguinaldo (and Aguinaldo’s response) was a prompt one by initiating immediately an auditing program,” he added.
He also reminded COA to act on a notice of disallowance it sent to Gordon over funds allegedly misused when he was still chair of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).
Duterte’s instruction came as he questioned the character of Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee probing deficiencies in the national government’s use of Covid-19 pandemic funds.
He criticized Gordon anew for “playing God” by claiming that his panel would continue its investigation “until kingdom come” as witnesses remained “evasive” in answering lawmaker’s questions.
“I am not objecting to your kingdom come pero huwag yung mga taong inaasahan ko na makipaglaban sa Covid-19 (but don’t do this to the people I am relying on to lead the fight against Covid-19),” he said.
Duterte said Gordon “lacked respect” wasting the time of Cabinet officials by asking them to appear before a series of hearings.
“Parang nilalaro lang ninyo kami. Nagkulang kayo ng respeto para sa executive department ng gobyerno. Pag binastos ninyo ako at ang Gabinete ko, magbabastusan tayo nito (It’s like you’re playing on us. You lack respect for the executive department of government. If you insult me and my Cabinet, we will have to insult each other),” he added.
Last week, Duterte ordered Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to draft a document that would order Cabinet officials to ignore the panel’s summons.
He said he will order the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) not to cooperate with the Senate if it threatened to hold in contempt members of the Cabinet who do not show up at their hearings.
If Gordon continued to “overstep his jurisdiction”, Duterte warned that there may be a “brewing constitutional crisis” caused by opposing positions from the executive and legislative branches of the government. (PNA)