Commission on Audit officials and Palawan civil society organizations engage in a dialogue. (photo courtesy of Sylvia Inciong of the Public Financial Management Program)
PUERTO PRINCESA - Some 80 participants from the Commission on Audit (COA) and various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from Palawan recently gathered in Puerto Princesa for a capacity building and audit planning workshop for a new Farm-to-Market-Roads (FMRs) citizen participatory audit (CPA).
The Palawan component is part of a nationwide performance audit that COA is implementing in cooperation with citizens and CSOs across the country. CSO partners are expected to help collect data on some of the remote FMR projects. The activity is coordinated by the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP) in cooperation with COA. It is sponsored by the Philippines- Australia Public Financial Management Program (PFMP) as part of its support to the second phase of COA’s CPA Program. The audit aims to determine the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Farm-to-Market-Road Development Program (FMRDP).
Quezon City, Philippines- The Commission on Audit (COA), together with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of National Defense (DND) and the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) signed the Joint Circular on Guidelines on the Entitlement, Release, Use, Reporting and Audit of the Confidential and/or Intelligence Fund on January 8, 2015.
COA, DBM, DILG, DND and GCG worked together to formulate the guidelines in order to provide a more accountable and transparent use of Confidential and Intelligence Funds (CIF). The Joint Circular not only provides for strong internal controls in the release and utilization of the CIF but also stricter accounting and auditing rules to prevent mishandling or improper application of the CIF.
“From a Constitutional perspective, the COA is given the mandate to define the scope of its audit, and this includes confidential funds. These guidelines could be a positive tool for governance and is the actualization of the Commission’s policy to engage all its stakeholders,” COA Chairperson Maria Gracia M. Pulido Tan said.
DBM Secretary Florencio B. Abad observed that “the Joint Circular comes at a time when our people are demanding greater public accountability in the use of funds and ensure that activities funded by the CIF are legitimate ones. By reforming the use of the CIF, we are helping the President fulfill his agenda of good governance to achieve sustained development, including just and lasting peace and the rule of law.”
GCG Chairman Cesar L. Villanueva, for his part, said “with the signing of the Joint Circular, we are sending a strong message to the public that we are one with the call for greater responsibility, transparency and accountability.”
DILG Undersecretary Edwin Enrile and DND Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta, representing their agencies, also gave their commitment to the guidelines. COA Commissioners Heidi L. Mendoza and Jose A. Fabia and other key officials of the stakeholder agencies witnessed the signing.
Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Maria Gracia M. Pulido Tan said working with COAns in spite of the difficulties and bringing about changes in governance was the biggest fulfillment of her career in the Commission.
Speaking before the COA family during the lighting of the Christmas tree to start the COA Christmas season on December 4, 2014, Chairperson Pulido Tan said “The biggest fulfillment of my having been with you in the COA is the thought that at some point in my life and yours, we came together, to work together though all the hardships and constraints and to have been able to see very palpable changes in government, the civil service and politics.”
Chairperson Pulido Tan reminded COAns that more needs to be done to consolidate the gains and institutionalize the reforms she begun and expressed hope that COA will overcome whatever difficulties and hurdles in the long journey towards the destination.
“If the three years and nine months are any gauge, then we can rest assured that, kung sa maganda ang tatahakin nating landas, nothing will derail us if we put our complete trust in God and in ourselves,” the Chairperson said.
Chairperson Pulido Tan added that she is not looking for any legacy since the time she spent with COAns are enough for her and that she will leave with a glad heart knowing that Commissioners Heidi L. Mendoza and Jose A. Fabia will cooperate and work together towards the achievement of COA’s Vision and Mission.
The COA Christmas celebration includes a program for the kids of the COA Day Care Center and children of employees with Salary Grade 1-6 and job-order personnel; a lunch get-together and gift-giving with employees with Salary Grade 1-6 and job-order personnel; and a cultural program.
The team that conducted the special audit of the Office of the Regional Governor (ORG)- Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) covering the period January 2008 to September 2009 won the Pag-asa award conferred by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).
The ORG-ARMM special audit team uncovered anomalies including fictitious procurements amounting to Ᵽ1.3 billion. Of that amount, transactions amounting to more than Ᵽ393 million were denied by alleged suppliers as having been contracted with them. Likewise, the other suppliers were not licensed or have questionable capability to supply the agency requirements.
The team was composed of Director Evelyn P. Reyes (over-all team supervisor), Director Elsielin C. Masangcay (team supervisor), Auditors Florefe S. Avila (team leader) and Grace T. De Castro (co-team leader), and Marilyn C. Bibat, Joselita G. Corteza, Gale Kathrine M. Hernandez and Dondon P. Marcos (team members).
“We are honored to receive such an award. While it is recognized that at some time or another, we are at risk in conducting our audits, it is still our responsibility to perform our work to the best that we can with honesty, integrity and independence,” said Director Reyes. “We feel that credit should also go to Assistant Commissioner Susan Garcia who was involved in the audit, accompanying the team in obtaining additional documents, conducting confirmation and project inspections in ARMM while she was director of the Special Audit Office,” she added.
As Pag-asa awardees, the team will receive a gold-gilded medallion and plaque as well as Ᵽ100,000 cash prize. The CSC confers the Pag-asa Award to an individual or group of individuals for outstanding contributions resulting from an idea or performance which directly benefits more than one department of the government.