CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Senator Richard Gordon has refuted Sunday, September 19, the accusation of President Rodrigo Duterte against the Phil. Red Cross (PRC) as he appealed to the chief executive to criticize him, but spare the humanitarian organization from verbal attacks.

Gordon, PRC chairperson and chief executive officer, made this appeal during the first anniversary of the establishment of the group’s molecular laboratory in this city.

The senator also defended the PRC following Duterte’s tirade against the Red Cross in one of his televised “talk to the people” speeches recently.

But Gordon said that Duterte should instead train his anger on him and not on the entire organization and its 2 million volunteers across the country.

“Just insult me, I will just hide behind [Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri]. When you cuss me, our volunteers are hurt with your words. They find your words against the Red Cross disheartening, instead of helping the volunteers and acknowledging them, that because of your anger you have damaged the reputation of the entire Red Cross,” Gordon told those in attendance at the online gathering Sunday morning.

“Mr. President, don’t trample on the work of our people, most of whom are volunteers,” he added.

The lawmaker said that the allegations against the PRC are false following Duterte’s order to have the humanitarian institution’s finances be scrutinized by the Commission on Audit (COA) after Gordon and other senators have initiated an investigation into the alleged anomalous deal involving a fledgling company that was supposedly awarded by the government with billions of pesos in transactions.

Duterte has accused Gordon of making PRC a “milking cow.”

COA’s mandate is to audit government offices and agencies. PRC is a nongovernment organization, although it has been a recipient of government funds intended for humanitarian efforts.

In his speech, Gordon enumerated the accomplishments of the PRC in terms of its projects, disaster response, donation to other countries and blood donations.

“Mr. President, the Red Cross is not a lazy chapter. We are one of the pillars of our society. We raise good citizenship. Our young people learn first aid at an early age. They learn to help the community. And our senior volunteers, they are superb,” he said.

Gordon also pointed out that the PRC has probably built more houses intended for calamity survivors than the government citing 151, 525 houses all over the archipelago since 2005.

In eight months alone, Gordon said, PRC has served 11,753 patients from January 1 to September 17 this year, with 281,978 blood type units.

He said the PRC provides 52 percent of the country’s blood requirements, and plans on expanding it.

“We are going to bring it up to 80 percent. That is my dream because we are going to add more blood collection and blood centers in the country, probably 10 or 12 more before the year is over,” Gordon added.

The legislator said PRC has administered 1.2 million measles and polio vaccines on Filipino children from 2019 to 2021, conducted by 76 chapters reaching out to 2,688 communities by mobilizing 5,438 volunteers organized into 1,356 vaccination teams nationwide.

Gordon also took a jab at online trolls who alleged he and other PRC officials have stolen money from the organization.

Gordon enumerated the donations amounting to US$2,737,433 PRC has extended to various countries affected by earthquakes, tsunami, armed conflict, bushfire, ebola virus outbreak, and weather disturbances, including developed nations such as the United States, Japan, and China, from 2005 to 2021.

The group also made a donation to Australia amounting to AU$100,000.

Gordon, however, made it clear that “I don’t intend to fight the President. I have my job, I’m busy with the Red Cross, I’m very busy with the Senate.”

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