COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose A. Fabia and Roland C. Pondoc receive tokens from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) during the close-out ceremony for USAID’s Integrity for Investments Initiative (i3) held at the COA CP Board Room on 13 April 2018. USAID was represented by Office of Economic Development and Governance (OEDG) Deputy Director Leslie Schaefer and Ms. Ria Orca. Also present were Ms. Jacquelyn Williams-Bridgers, Chief of Party and Mr. Daniel Lee, Deputy Chief of Party of I3.

The Commission on Audit (COA) acknowledged the contribution of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Integrity for Investments Initiative (I3) in helping boost the COA’s anti-corruption thrusts and audit operations during the close out ceremony held on 13 April 2018 at the COA CP Board Room. The USAID I3 supported the anti-corruption efforts of the Philippine government, primarily of the COA and the Office of the Ombudsman. The I3 assisted in the effective enforcement of anti-corruption laws by improving skills, policies, and systems. The goal of the I3 was to contribute to inclusive growth by reducing the costs of corruption to investments and trade, and promoting open and fair competition.

COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo said that the technical assistance provided by USAID through its I3 will go a long way towards making the COA a more effective and resilient Supreme Audit Institution.

"Thank you so much for all the support you have provided to the Commission on Audit. We are grateful for capacitating our personnel in matters of security management, performance auditing, and fraud examination; and, for providing valuable resources for our Strategic Plan. We hope that in the future, we could continue our personal and professional friendship that has been forged during the course of our collaboration," Chairperson Aguinaldo said before the officials of USAID's Office of Economic Development and Governance (OEDG) and USAID's I3.

Commissioner Jose A. Fabia, for his part, said that the USAID’s assistance capacitated COA to better perform its mandate. "Empowering the Commission on Audit and other government agencies that are working to prevent corruption is the best investment that you can give to our country," Commissioner Fabia said.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc thanked the USAID for providing technical and other forms of support. "I look forward that in the future, you can still provide us with immediate support especially that we share the same vision and objectives for our country; that is, to curb corruption both in the private and public sectors," Commissioner Pondoc said.

For her parting thoughts, Ms. Jacquelyn Williams-Bridgers, Chief of Party of I3, said that it is a pleasure working with an agency that is dedicated to integrity and brings to fore its independence and objectivity in dealing with issues in the government of the Philippines.

“All the work you've done is extremely massive. I am grateful that we have an amazing government counterpart. Your achievements are very impressive. It is a very difficult task for anyone to implement reforms and anti-corruption measures but you clearly have embraced all the different learnings and ethics that we in the corporate world use,” USAID’s OEDG Deputy Director Leslie Schaefer added.

The COA programs that received support from the I3 include the enhancement of performance audit to better assess the results of government spending; the establishment of electronic system that improves the management of voluminous case records; the enhancement of COA’s public information and media relations capability by providing technical assistance to the media affairs officials to enable more effective communications on COA’s initiatives, internally to its organization, and externally to the general public; guidance in developing COA’s strategic plan; roll out of accounting and auditing guidelines for disaster risk reduction and management; post-Yolanda recovery and rehabilitation of COA Regional Office No. VIII in Leyte; and various other technical and logistical assistance for capacity building and knowledge exchange activities that COA participated in locally and abroad. # - Dennis Cariño