House approves bill revising government auditing code

Published: 21 December 2023


In an effort to keep up with the changing times, the Commission on Audit (COA) had long been clamoring for lawmakers to update the 45-year old Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1445 or the “Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.” This initiative has taken a big step forward as the House of Representatives, voting 258-0-0, approved House Bill No. 9674 or the “Revised Government Auditing Act” on the Third and Final Reading on 12 December 2023. It is one of the priority measures of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

In his sponsorship speech, Committee on Revision of Laws Chair Edward Vera Perez Maceda noted the outdated processes of accounting and auditing and emphasized the need to update the government auditing code due to the changing times, emerging technologies and digitization.

Representative Edward Vera Perez Maceda (6th from left), 4th District of Manila, Chair of the Committee on Revision of Laws; Representative Mark O. Go (7th from left), Lone District of Baguio City and Member of the Committee on Appropriations; and Atty. Jean Celzo-Dapula, Secretary of the Committee on Revision of Laws join COA officials (left to right) Atty. Ana Lee T. Sianoya, Director Daryl H. Tonolete, Atty. Al Baljon, Assistant Commissioners Alexander B. Juliano, Winnie Rose H. Encallado, Fortunata M. Rubico and Nilda B. Plaras, Atty. Erwin E. Lapitan, and HOR Auditor Isaiash Reynoso at the House of Representatives Plenary Session Hall after the 2nd reading of the Revised Government Auditing Act on 6 December 2023.

The bill reorganizes the Commission on Audit, clearly defining the powers and functions of the Chairperson, Commissioners, Assistant Commissioners, Directors and Auditors, Audit Groups and Audit Teams. Some offices mentioned in PD No. 1445 became sectors while others were renamed as offices under a sector, in accordance with the existing organizational and functional structures of the Commission as approved by the Department of the Budget and Management. Accordingly, the 11 sectors embody the specialization of their respective duties and responsibilities in order to carry out the constitutional mandates of the Commission under the present condition, exact accountability and transparency in government operations, and immediately respond to the needs of government agencies as enabling partner for the benefit of the Filipinos.

Other salient features of the bill include modifying the custodial responsibility of the auditor using the digital copies of audited vouchers and supporting papers, official receipts, and other documents or reports; professionalizing the services of the Commission by implementing competency-based capacity building and continuing education through adherence to international standards and participation in international institutions for audit and accounting fields; institutionalizing the use and admission of electronic collection, electronic receipts, electronic payments and other digitalized transaction audit trails; and institutionalizing the power of the Commission to adjudicate money claims against the government based on liquidated claims and quantum meruit, among others.

The bill also vests the Commission with the power to impose contempt pursuant to the Revised Rules of Court and Rules of Procedure of the Commission, and allow COA to increase the penalties for impeding, frustrating or delaying the efficient conduct of audit.

As an initiative under the Commission’s 2016-2022 and carried forward to the 2023-2029 Strategic Plan, COA created a composite Technical Working Group (TWG) representing the 11 Sectors and a Secretariat composed of lawyers from the Legal Affairs Office and the Prosecution and Litigation Office tasked to review and propose revisions on PD No. 1445 for two weeks in October 2023. The Assistant Commissioners’ Group and the Chiefs of Staff of the Commission Proper (CP) spent overtime and overnight work reviewing the draft submitted by the TWG. On 28 November 2023, the CP approved COA Resolution No. 2023-015 authorizing the referral of the proposed bill to Congress to revise PD No. 1445. HB No. 9674 substantially considered the proposed revisions of the Commission. Meanwhile, the proposed bill was also referred to the Senate. #