COA conducts series of webinars on its role in PHL government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

The Commission on Audit (COA) held a series of webinars across its various regional offices to discuss the Commission’s role in the Philippine Government’s response to COVID-19 in the emergency and post-emergency phases.

Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc was the sole resource speaker on all webinars hosted by the different COA regional offices. He emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented public health emergency, with associated significant economic impact, affecting all developing and developed countries. The presentation was based on the Accountability and Oversight Institutions Community of Practice in the World Bank Group which he tailor-fitted for the Commission.

“The Commission on Audit needs to retain a comprehensive mandate covering all public funds and resources mobilized in response to the COVID-19 crisis,” Commissioner Pondoc strongly urged.

The regional offices that played host to the webinar were: COA Regional Office No. I on 10 July, attended by 100 participants; COA BARMM on 14 July (196); COA Regional Office No. XII on 15 July (219); COA Regional Office No. XI on 17 July (278); COA Regional Office No. XIII also on 17 July (292); COA Regional Office No. X on 21 July 2020 (300)COA Regional Office No. V on 24 July (341); COA Regional Office No. VIII also on 24 July (321); COA Regional Office No. III on 29 July (323); COA Regional Office No. VII on 4 August (317); COA Regional Office No. VI on 5 August (276); COA Regional Office No. II on 6 August (109); and COA NIS Regional Satellite Audit Office on 10 August 2020. The first webinar was hosted by COA Regional Office No. IX on 9 July with 344 COA personnel in attendance.

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Celebrating 2020 Accountancy Week in the “New Normal”

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought heightened uncertainty over the economy, employment, finances, relationships, physical and mental health. During these difficult times, accountants across the country took up the challenge of continuing to be the guardians of our economy amidst the "new normal," and RISING up in solidarity to participate and update their accounting knowledge and skills during the first ever virtual 2020 Accountancy Week Celebration (AWC) that was held from 12 to 18 July 2020.

This year's theme, “Filipino CPAs RISING in Solidarity Amidst Challenging Times," focuses on solidarity within the profession as the impact of the pandemic greatly affects not only the accounting practice but also other professions as well as the economy of the country.

During the virtual opening program of the AWC, Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc said that the week-long event highlights the value and contribution of Filipino CPAs in nation-building. He said the activities set for the week aims to show support of solidarity to the continuing commitment of the accounting professionals in both government and private sectors to be more relevant during the changing and challenging times. The Commissioner said that CPAs should attend the programs and webinars scheduled for the AWC to be updated and informed of what will be the proper approaches to face the challenges that the new normal brings to the accountancy profession.

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Ensuring transparency and accountability in government response to pandemic discussed at webinar

Ensuring transparency and accountability without creating a bottleneck in the government’s response to the current pandemic is one of the challenges discussed in the webinar on the “Role of the COA in the Philippine Government’s Response to COVID-19: Emergency and Post-Emergency Phases” conducted by the Commission on Audit (COA) Regional Office No. IX on 9 July 2020. The webinar was also broadcasted on Facebook Live.

COA Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc was the resource person at the webinar which was attended by 344 participants from COA Regional Office No. IX led by Director Visitacion Q. Mendoza.

“There will be adjustments in our normal audit practices and I hope we will be able to identify the important points that we need to consider to continue our functions and roles as employees of COA,” Commissioner Pondoc said. “We need to transition through unique challenges to ensure continued transparency and accountability without becoming a bottleneck,” he added.

Commissioner Pondoc noted some key principles during the emergency stage including prioritizing safety of people, frontliners, audit and auditee staff; taking advantage of digital audit technology to continue audit operations remotely; securing audit trails on COVID-19 through monitoring, documenting and analyzing government responses; and maintaining effective communication with key stakeholders, among others.

For the post-emergency stage, Commissioner Pondoc suggested using professional judgment to contextualize conclusions to the COVID-19 emergency and developing approaches for expenditures from blended funding sources, among other principles. Considerations in the post-emergency stage also include government high-priority programs in terms of materiality and risks such as social ameliorations, stimulus package and distribution of medical and food supplies and challenges such as missing audit trails, limited access to data and onsite physical verification and alternate procedures or solutions.

The Commissioner also observed audit of procurement should align with actions taken during the COVID 19 emergency, noting that the risk of fraud is always present but is elevated during emergency cases. He also emphasized the need for coordination with accountability agencies.

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Commissioner Pondoc is PICPA’s new VP for Gov’t

Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc of the Commission on Audit (COA) joined Fiscal Year 2020-2021 National President Mr. Lope L. Bato, Jr. along with the new officers and National Board of Directors in the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) virtual turn-over and induction ceremony last 3 July 2020.

Taking his oath of office together with the other officers, Commissioner Pondoc is now PICPA's new Vice President - Government Sector and Senior Director - Southern Mindanao Region. The Honorable Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles served as the inducting officer for this event.

Other key officers of PICPA are Ms. Marydith C, Miguel, Executive Vice President; Ms. Gladeys Jill A. Santos-Cua, VP for Operations; Atty. Rheneir P. Mora, VP for Commerce & Industry; Ms. Milagros C. Cardona, VP for Education; Mr. Michael C. Gallego, VP for Public Practice; Ms. Estelita C. Aguirre, Executive Director; Ms. Anna Lissa C. Dycaico, Secretary; and Ms. Ma. Teresita Z. Dimaculangan, Treasurer. All the members of the national board, presidential advisers, board of trustees of PICPA Foundation, committee chairpersons, vice-chairpersons and members, regional sectoral representatives, and chapter presidents were likewise inducted.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Pondoc also had the honor of introducing President Rodrigo R. Duterte as one of the Keynote Speakers during the virtual ceremony.

"Maayong hapon sa atong tanan. Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I have the high privilege and distinct honor of introducing to you our keynote speaker this afternoon. The President of the Republic of the Philippines, Mayor-President Rodrigo Roa Duterte," Commissioner Pondoc proudly declared.

In his speech, President Duterte wished the organization and the officers a meaningful event and took the opportunity to commend the CPAs for their critical role in accelerating the country's economic growth.

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