COA shares experiences on ASOSAI’s four cross-cutting priorities at international symposium

The Commission on Audit (COA) participated in the 8th Symposium of the Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) held on 8 September 2021. The virtual event with the theme “The ASOSAI and the Next Normal: Resilience Amidst Challenges” was hosted by the State Audit Office of the Kingdom of Thailand.

Five COA officials presented country papers highlighting experiences and best practices of the Commission on sub-themes that represent the four cross-cutting priorities of the Organization’s Strategic Plan for 2022-2027 and the Bangkok Declaration: promoting good governance in the next normal, encouraging for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), leveraging by using advanced technologies for public sector auditing, and responding to disaster and pandemic issues. The International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) Development Initiative also participated in the sessions.

For Sub-theme A, Assistant Commissioner Alexander B. Juliano presented a paper entitled “Promoting Good Governance in the New Normal.” The presentation focused on the COA’s critical role in promoting public trust in the government by establishing an environment of public accountability through fiscal transparency. The Citizen Participatory Audit, Philippine Performance Audit Partnership Project, and the COA’s other collaboration with various anti-corruption bodies and agencies, were among the best practices presented.

Directors Sofia C. Gemora and Michael L. Racelis discussed the topic “SAI and Encouraging Attainment of SDGs” for Sub-theme B. Their country paper expounded the COA’s delivery of performance audit on the National Health Insurance Program as well as in the strengthening of COA’s contribution to SDG audits.

For Sub-theme C, Director Marlon R. Marquina delivered a piece on “Leveraging Opportunities by Using Advanced Technologies for Public Sector Auditing: COA Experience.” The presentation highlighted how the current health crisis has opened new doors for SAI Philippines to modernize public auditing practice by shifting from paper-based audits to a digital-driven one. The COA’s Audit Modernization Program and the Machine Intelligence, Knowledge-based Audit and Experience Learning (MIKA-EL) Project were the highlights of the presentation.

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COA audit team, employee among semi-finalists in search for outstanding government workers

An audit team and an employee of the Commission on Audit (COA) were named semi-finalists in the 2021 Search for Outstanding Government Workers by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Team 2, Audit Group A-Charity Fund and Prize Fund, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Cluster 6, Corporate Government Sector was nominated in the group category for the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award while Anthony Durante Atas, Administrative Aide VI of COA Regional Office (RO) No. 1, San Fernando City, La Union, was named semi-finalist for the Dangal ng Bayan Award.

The PCSO Audit Team, which won the COA’s Gawad Kahusayan award for outstanding audit performance for 2020, issued several audit observation memoranda that uncovered certain deficiencies during the audit of Small-town Lottery operations, including P1.141 billion from unremitted Presumptive Monthly Retail Receipts due to the PCSO. The audit team was composed of team leader State Auditor Belen B. Ladines, and members Jinky B. Rocal, Margeoreane C. Derico, Ian Emmanuel C. Jimenez, Judith Anne C. Cabral, Nephtali D. Gonzaga, and Rephan Augustus G. Cucio. However, only five names were nominated in accordance with the CSC rules.

A recipient of COA’s Gawad Karangalan Level I award for 2020, Mr. Atas provided not only administrative support but also delivered a variety of assistance to the technical staff of COA RO No. 1, including carpentry and plumbing and rendered overtime services without payment. His commitment saved the office a lot of resources as well as two lives.

The Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award is conferred on an individual or group for extraordinary contribution that had “nationwide impact on public interest, security and patrimony” while the Dangal ng Bayan Award is a recognition given to an individual for exemplary ethical behavior in observance of the code of conduct under Republic Act No. 6713.

The other semi-finalists for the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award, group category, are Hope Behind Bars Project of the Bataan Peninsula State University and Outpatient Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center.

Other semi-finalists for the Dangal ng Bayan Award are Administrative Aide I John Laumoc Alcazarin of the Municipal Government of Numancia, Aklan; Medical Technologist I Lucia Jacinta Santiago Benter of the Municipal Government of La Trinidad, Benguet; Instructor I Don Sean Arvie Valenzuela Buencamino of the Aurora State College of Technology; Master Teacher I Ma. Theresa Hermoso Criste of the Department of Education-Schools Division of Cavite; Medical Specialist III Dr. Jose Jonas Diño Del Rosario of the Philippine General Hospital, University of the Philippines, Manila; Teacher II Sherwyne Tubal Manlangit of the Cagraray Elementary School, Catanduanes; Administrative Aide III Aquilino Ronquillo Mapili Jr. of the Municipal Government of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro; Education Program Specialist II Markson Bosquillos Mejia of the Department of Education-Schools Division of Sorsogon City; and Head Teacher III Analyn Climaco Perez of the Dina-ut Elementary School, Aklan.

The CSC also confers the Pag-asa Award to an individual or group of individuals for outstanding contributions resulting from an idea or performance which directly benefit more than one department of the government, though not of such an extraordinary degree as to merit the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award.

In a statement, the CSC said the gathering of feedback aims to ensure that only those deserving will be conferred with the highest recognition given to state employees. The CSC added it would accept feedbacks on the semi-finalists until 15 September 2021.

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COA, DOJ, and OMB ink MOA on Resident Ombudsmen

Intending to revive its Resident Ombudsmen Program, the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to designate state prosecutors and auditors as resident ombudsmen in selected government agencies that are perceived to be graft-ridden.

COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo, DOJ Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, and Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires signed the MOA on 08 September 2021 to "synergize the investigatory powers of the Ombudsman, DOJ, and COA in the implementation of corruption prevention measures and to act on complaints and reports of corrupt activities, thus aiding the Ombudsman and COA to carry out their respective mandates while also serving as a supplemental tool for the DOJ to attain the purposes of the Task Force Against Corruption which it is spearheading."

The OMB initiated the proposed MOA which stemmed from the inter-agency Task Force Against Corruption pursuant to President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to the DOJ to create an inter-agency panel that will conduct a corruption investigation into the “entire government.”

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COA clarification on audit findings of DOH COVID-19 funds

The Consolidated Annual Audit Report for FY 2020 of the Department of Health (DOH) contains observations and findings made by the Commission on Audit on the utilization of the budget by the DOH. Accompanying the observations and findings are the recommendations made by the auditors for the management of DOH to address the observation and findings. These are part of the audit process, which allows the audited agency to comply with the recommendations and rectify any deficiencies. The Report itself does not mention any findings by the auditors of funds lost to corruption.

As an example, some of the findings of deficiencies involving COVID-19 funds amounting to Php67.3 Billion resulted from the non-submission of documentation or supporting papers, which the DOH may still submit in compliance with the auditor’s recommendation. Of the Php67.3 Billion, Php42.4 Billion consisted of fund transfers to procurement/implementing partner-agencies without the required documentation. There is no finding that this amount cannot be accounted for. The breakdown of the Php67.3 Billion and the deficiencies found are clearly explained in Annexes IV and V of the Consolidated Annual Audit Report of the DOH.

As there are recommendations for compliance by the DOH, the audit process for the deficiencies pointed out has not been completed. Hence, it is premature at this stage to make conclusions on the findings in the Consolidated Annual Audit Report.

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