Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo discussed the constitutional mandate of the COA as guest speaker at the 9th General Membership Meeting of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) held on 15 September 2021 via Zoom.

FINEX recently spearheaded strong support for the Commission and called to uphold the audit independence of COA.

Chairperson Aguinaldo’s presentation included the history of the COA, its major functions, the types of audits that COA conducts, the constitutional mandate and duties of COA, and myths and misconceptions about the Commission.

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The Commission on Audit (COA), the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) of the Philippines, was elected as one of the Governing Board (GB) members of the Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) for the period 2021-2024 during the 15th ASOSAI General Assembly held virtually on 7 September 2021. The event was hosted by the State Audit Office of the Kingdom of Thailand as the new Chair of ASOSAI for 2021-2024.

Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc led the Philippine delegation to the recently concluded event. He was accompanied by officials from the Professional and Institutional Development Sector.

Joining the ex-officio members from the SAIs of China, India, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam, the Assembly elected the seven new GB members—the SAIs of Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. The Assembly also elected the Audit Committee which is now comprised of the SAIs of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

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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.

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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.

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.”

The deputy/resident ombudsmen are expected to start deployment this month to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Bureau of Customs (BOC), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Land Registration Authority (LRA), and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth). Assignments may also be made to “other agencies that may be identified later on as graft-prone or with high corruption risk” until the termination of the MOA on 30 June 2022.

Under the MOA, the resident ombudsmen shall receive complaints against officials and employees of the office where they are deployed and shall endorse it to the Justice Secretary, the COA Chairperson, and the Ombudsman.

The previous Resident Ombudsman Program was implemented in 2001 under Administrative Order (AO) No. 10 urging all heads of agencies of government, including government-owned or controlled corporations, to install a Resident Ombudsman in their respective offices. Under AO 10, the Resident Ombudsman was deputized as Ombudsman investigator with the authority to conduct fact-finding inquiries in matters falling within the functions of the OMB. The duties and responsibilities of the then Resident Ombudsman included reporting anomalies, irregular acts, unethical conduct or illegal activities committed by officials and employees of the office and aiding the OMB in gathering evidence in cases under investigation by the OMB.