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.

Commissioner Pondoc was very emphatic of the need for COAns to transition through unique challenges to ensure continued transparency and accountability without becoming a bottleneck.

In all the webinars, the Commissioner cited key principles such as securing audit trails on COVID-19 through monitoring, documenting and analyzing government responses, communicating with key stakeholders and ensuring the establishment of adequate built-in oversight mechanisms in government emergency relief packages, among others. He also reminded auditors to ensure auditee and client preparedness for auditing and to use professional judgment and appropriately apply nuisance conclusions to context.

Towards the end of his talk, Commissioner Pondoc stressed that on top of foreign loans, grants and treasury bond issuances in connection with government’s response to the pandemic, billions sourced from the national budget for the current and previous years has already been released for the government’s COVID-19 response. The data was based on the report by the Department of Finance as of 30 June. To be able to solicit inputs, the webinar was capped by an open forum where possible audit issues were raised and discussed.

The following is the schedule for the next webinars: COA CAR on 11 August 2020; COA NCR on 12 August; COA Regional Office IV-A on 25 August while the schedule for COA Regional Office IV-B will soon be announced. #