Image via WikipediaPhilippine National Red Cross (PNRC)
Continuing Liban v. Gordon
By Atty. Rey Cartojano
During a meeting by the Board of Governors of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) recently, a representative of the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) made a statement that just like Red Cross societies in other countries, the PNRC is neither a government instrumentality or a private corporation.
This statement is interesting in the sense that the divided Supreme Court in the recent Liban v. Gordon is near deadlock in categorizing the status of PNRC as a government instrumentality or a private corporation, with the majority ruling that PNRC is a private corporation, thus saving PNRC Chairman Richard Gordon from being ousted from his Senate seat.
In ruling however, that PNRC is a private corporation, the Supreme Court also nullified almost all provisions of the PNRC Charter in the light of the Constitutional prohibition on Congress to pass a law creating a private corporation.
With the expected motions for reconsideration to be filed by both Liban and Gordon before the Supreme Court, the status of PNRC and for that matter Senator Gordon will be further deliberated upon by the High Tribunal in the light of the possibility that a 'hybrid' entity, which is neither government or private, will be looked closely by the magistrates.
In a sense, this 'hybrid' entity seems to be the real nature of PNRC in the light of the Geneva Convention which the Philippines acceded, and which mandates the creation by States acceding to the said Geneva Convention of Red Cross societies which are humanitarian, independent and impartial. Being State-sponsored, Red Cross cannot be private but it cannot also be government as it should be independent and impartial.
Caught in the legal cross fire between Liban and Gordon are thousands of Red Cross employees and volunteers whose status and benefits are put to serious question. If the Supreme Court will finally rule that PNRC is a private corporation, then all employed PNRC personnel will lose their status as government employees and probably a significant portion of their benefits with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). That, indeed, is a worrisome and frightening scenario especially for those who have served PNRC for many years and are about to retire in few years time.
Assuming that PNRC is a 'hybrid' entity, will PNRC personnel lose their status as government employees? It is now appropriate for PNRC and its personnel to file a motion for leave to intervene in the Supreme Court, if only for them to put to light many interesting yet disturbing issues that arose out of the ruling in Liban v. Gordon.