COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo and Commissioners Jose A. Fabia and Roland C. Pondoc bestow awards to former COA Commissioner Isabel D. Agito (3rd from left) and Assistant Commissioner Lourdes M. Castillo at the COA Salutes the Best program on 7 May 2018. Former Commissioner Agito was given a special citation for her distinguished and dedicated service as Commissioner from 2016-2018 while Assistant Commissioner Castillo was awarded the Gawad Bilang Katangi-tanging Pinuno for her pioneering work and exemplary leadership in mainstreaming gender and development in the programs of COA.

The celebration of the Commission on Audit's (COA) 119th founding anniversary focused on delivering meaningful public service and helping improve the lives of the Filipino people.

COA’s week-long celebration was highlighted by the COA Salutes the Best program honoring exemplary COA officials and employees for their unwavering display of courage, integrity, and loyalty in the performance of their duties as public servants. The recognition program was held at the COA Sports and Cultural Complex on 07 May 2018.

COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo stressed the importance of doing work without fear or favor. "You do not have to be heroic to be a hero. All you have to do is do your best, give your best in what you do. We serve this country, we do our work without fear or favor, and we do it without consideration of the politics involved. That is our work. We're not here to favor anyone.

We're here to do our job and do it to the best of our ability. This is our brand of public service that we give to the country and to the people," Chairperson Aguinaldo said.

The Chairperson was also lost for words as he said that it is just amazing when so many COA officials and employees reached 40 years of service. "It's this kind of loyalty and dedication that our country and the Filipino people need," added Chairperson Aguinaldo.

Commissioner Jose A. Fabia lauded the awardees and encouraged them to be enablers and nation-builders. "For every Notice of Disallowance or Audit Observation Memorandum that you send to audited agencies, you are able to save government funds that go to the service of the nation. Wherever your recommendations are taken seriously and implemented by the government agencies, you are able to improve the performance of the government agencies for the benefit of the Filipino people," Commissioner Fabia said.

Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc, for his part, advised the awardees to become like an infectious disease so that they can spread their best practices to other COA officials and employees and become the next awardees. "Sana lahat po tayo dito sa COA ay mahawaan nang sa gayon po ay lahat ng ating mga kawani ay makaramdam ng kasiyahan, just like the feeling of fulfillment and happiness that our honorees are feeling right now," Commissioner Pondoc added.

The Gawad Kahusayan for outstanding audit performance went to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Audit Team for their extraordinary effort despite its limited manpower and other resources to uncover deficiencies in the implementation of TESDA training programs under the training for work scholarship program conducted by AMA Computer College as its technical and vocational institution partner. The team was composed of Auditors Ofelia A. Monico, Lorelie R. Villanueva, Gina D. Garcia, and Sittie Aisah S. Sanggacala.

Three other audit teams from different COA regional offices were conferred the Outstanding Audit Report: Auditors Olivia C. Flores, Mary Claire L. Auxilio, Ma. Socorro Perpetua P. Sildo, and Myrna B. Ofngol and Engr. Marlon S. Barranco for their work in the audit of the Local Government Unit of Cagayan de Oro City's 2003 to 2010 Project: "Telepono sa Barangay: Dakbayan sa CDO”; Auditor Lonelia N. Urbanozo, Attys. Rosemary L. Saldo and Josephine A. Tilan and Engr. Reymax F. Bosque for their audit of Fictitious Road-Right-of-Way Claims in CY 2002 by the Department of Public Works and Highways in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR); and Auditors Jennifer R. Lusterio and Raqueline T. Bayo for their audit report on the Unlawful Disbursement of P5 million in 2002 in the Municipality of Bakun, Benguet also in the CAR.

For the individual categories, the Gawad Karangalan award was conferred to Auditor Nelia C. Manalo (Level II) for exemplary performance as audit team leader in COA Regional Office No. II which resulted in the recovery of public funds amounting to P5.7 million, and to Atty. Tilan (Level III) for her consistent demonstration of commitment to public interest as Chief of the Legal Services, COA-CAR which resulted in increased accountability and improved management of public funds.

The Gawad Kagitingan award was conferred to Audit Team Leader Teresita L. Panganiban for her demonstration of unusual courage despite the death threats received not to release audit findings during the team's audit of the accounts of the Philippine Coast Guard in 2014.

Former Auditor Teresita G. Daradar of COA Regional Office No. XIII was recognized as the Most Productive Retiree, while Auditor Mary Francel D. Ablao of COA-CAR was given the Career Development Incentive award for completing her master's degree in business administration as cum laude.

Meanwhile, the Gawad Bilang Katangi-tanging Pinuno was conferred to Assistant Commissioner Lourdes M. Castillo for her selfless and unwavering commitment, pioneering work and exemplary leadership in mainstreaming gender and development in the programs, projects, and activities of the COA. Former COA Commissioner Isabel D. Agito was also given the Special Citation award in appreciation of her distinguished and dedicated service as Commissioner from 2016-2018 and for contributing to the prestige and success of the Commission.

Receiving the Loyalty Milestone were 41 officials and employees from the Central Office and 36 from the Regional Offices for 40 years of service. COA also honored 11 of its officials who are compulsorily retiring from the service this year.

COA established the Program on Awards and Incentives for Service Excellence (PRAISE) through COA Resolution No. 2002-007 dated 3 October 2002, in its efforts to recognize, acknowledge and reward productive, innovative and growing acts of its human resource.

Another highlight of the 119th COA anniversary was the week-long sports festival in which the winners of different sporting events from the National Capital Region, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao battled for supremacy and the chance to be called champions. Chorale and cultural dance competitions were likewise held to highlight the Filipino culture in COA’s celebration.

Other activities held during COA Week were the Regional Products Exhibit, several livelihood demonstrations by TESDA and the Department of Agriculture, Zumba exhibition, basic painting lessons, and book fair. Booths manned by various agencies such as the National Statistics Office, Land Transportation Office, Government Service Insurance System, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG were also set-up to assist COA employees. # - Dennis Cariño