Duterte questions Gordon's PDAF use, searches for Red Cross ‘law-mandated report’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — President Rodrigo Duterte threw another set of blows at Senator Richard Gordon and the Philippine Red Cross, claiming the veteran lawmaker is misusing government funds.

In his weekly national address on Monday, Duterte, without elaborating on the basis of his accusation, said Gordon may have used ₱88 million worth of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and “co-mingled it” with PRC money.

Gordon is the chairman of the PRC.

"Nais ko malaman, tumanggap ka ba ng ₱88 million? Sa PDAF mo, kung totoo lang," Duterte said, addressing Gordon. "Pinarking mo ang PDAF mo, so you co-mingled it with the money of Red Cross."

[Translation: I want to know, did you really receive ₱88 million? Those are from your PDAF, if it is true. You ‘parked’ your PDAF, so you co-mingled it with the money of Red Cross.]

Duterte claimed the money allegedly pocketed by Gordon has been "lost forever and cannot be accounted for."

The PDAF, popularly known as pork barrel, is a discretionary fund distributed to senators and congressmen to fund local projects.

PDAF was abolished in 2013 after the Supreme Court declared its unconstitutionality after several legislators were found to have misused the funds. Gordon was not included among the lawmakers implicated in the so-called pork barrel scam.

The President also alleged Philippine Red Cross failed to submit its annual report required by law.

“Where is this report? In all my years as president, I have not seen even the shadow of that law-mandated report," Duterte said during his public address aired Monday night.

"That is actually an omission, that is something which you failed to do,” he also said.

“If it is required by law and you failed to do it and there is malice because you wanted to hide your crimes… then it becomes a case of anti-graft,” he added.

Duterte was referring to the report required by Republic Act No. 10072 or the Philippine Red Cross Act of 2009.

“The Philippine Red Cross shall, 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," the law says.

Duterte is also pushing for the Commission on Audit to scrutinize the PRC, a non-government and non-profit organization headed by Senator Richard Gordon.

Gordon is also the chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigating the Duterte administration’s purchase of alleged overpriced medical supplies for pandemic response.

COA Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo has confirmed that the agency does not have jurisdiction to audit the PRC.

He explained the COA can only audit the payments delivered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation to the PRC.