The Commission on Audit (COA) celebrated its 118th year focusing on its role as an enabling partner for better government service. COA held activities highlighted by a recognition ceremony honoring the best audit performance as well as sports and other competitions from May 2-8, 2017 to mark its 118th anniversary.

“As auditors, we are not only ‘watchdogs’ guarding public resources but also ‘guardians,’ empowering and enabling government agencies to perform their mandates more efficiently and effectively,” said COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo.

“We acknowledge that to give better public service, we need to partner with our various stakeholders for the conduct of our various programs and projects,” Chairperson Aguinaldo added.

Commissioner Jose A. Fabia encouraged auditors to become better guides and to engage more with auditees for them to achieve growth. “Let us help our auditees discover their potentials and let us all grow together. Let us also continue our good standing among Supreme Audit Institutions and let us trail blaze to greater heights in international audit and accounting,” Commissioner Fabia said.

Commissioner Isabel D. Agito noted that COA has steadfastly adhered to its mandate for more than a century. “As the government’s enabling partner, our thrust is to ensure accountability for public resources, promote transparency, and help improve government operations with the end in view of ensuring a better life for all Filipinos,” Commissioner Agito said.

Meanwhile, the Commission honored audit teams and COA employees who have performed their duties with utmost excellence, courage and beyond expectations at the “COA Salutes the Best” program held at the COA Sports and Cultural Complex on 8 May 2017. It was a full harvest this year as the Commission found exemplary recipients in all categories. The Gawad Kahusayan was awarded to Audit Group M- Quezon City of the Local Government Sector and the National Government Sector 5A & 6A Audit Team No. R11-15 of the COA Regional Office No. XI. The Unliquidated cash advances of then Municipal Mayor of Alfonso Lista, Ifugao in CY 1994; Unliquidated Cash Advances from January 1998 to June 30, 2010 of then Municipal Treasurer of Tanudan, Kalinga; and the Audit on the cash and accounts of the Municipality of Amulung, Cagayan were deemed Outstanding Audit Reports.

In the individual categories, the Gawad Karangalan was conferred to Pedro C. Pascual, Administrative Aide III at the COA Regional Office No. II (for Level I), Humphry G. Torres, Information Technology Officer III at COA Regional Office No. XI and Christina E. Delos Santos, State Auditor IV at COA Regional Office No. XIII (for Level II), and Araceli P. Geli, State Auditor V at COA Regional Office No. XI (for Level III). State Auditor Romel C. Espiña of COA Regional Office No. XIII received the Gawad Kagitingan award while State Auditor Mary D. Bacwaden was awarded the Gawad Bilang Katangi-tanging Pinuno.

Former State Auditor Evelyn Louise E. Rivera of COA Regional Office No. VII was recognized as the Most Productive Retiree. Nine officials and employees from the Central Office and 23 from the Regional Offices were presented with the Loyalty award.

Revelries include sports, folk dance and choral competitions, a book fair and booths for government services.

The Commission traces its roots to the Office of the Insular Auditor of the Philippine Islands created through an unnumbered memorandum signed by then US President William McKinley on 8 May 1899. The institution has since evolved into a three-person collegial body with greater independence and scope as the Supreme Audit Institution of the Philippines under the 1987 Constitution.

The Commission is presently enacting reforms that will steer the institution into an organization that creates positive impact in government and society; empowers and enables government agencies to perform their mandates better; produces high quality, fair and timely audits; and increases stakeholder ownership and understanding. In order to accomplish these goals, the Commission will likewise strengthen its various capacities and capabilities and enhance its support infrastructure.

Congratulations COAns and happy 118th anniversary!

Commission on Audit (COA) Assistant Commissioner Lourdes M. Castillo, Chairperson of COA’s Gender and Development (GAD) Focal Point System Technical Working Group, and Director Fortunata M. Rubico, Chairperson of COA GAD Secretariat, joined the Philippine delegation to the 61st Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) from 13 to 17 March 2017.

The 61st Session of the UNCSW held at the UN headquarters in New York on 13 to 24 March 2017 centered on “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work” as its priority theme. The conference also discussed challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls as well as the emerging issue of empowerment of indigenous women.

The UNCSW is a global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. Its annual sessions include ministerial segments with round tables and other high-level interactive dialogues, general discussions, and interactive and expert panel discussions. Stakeholders organize side events to draw attention to critical aspects of the work on gender equality.

One hundred sixty two Member States, including the Philippines, and over 3,900 representatives from 580 civil society organizations participated in the two-week conference.

Representatives from government agencies such as National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Departments of Agrarian Reform, Trade and Industry, Labor and Employment, Budget and Management, Foreign Affairs and Science and Technology as well as non-government organizations (NGOs) such as Industrial Federation for Business and Professionals, P4MP Toboso, ARMM-RLA, NCRO and Coca-Cola from the business sector complete the Philippine delegation headed by Chairperson Rhodora M. Bucoy of the Philippine Commission on Women.

Assistant Commissioner Castillo and Director Rubico attended the Opening Session Ministerial Round Table B on "Technology Changing the World of Work", General Discussions, and Interactive Dialogue on "Challenges and Achievements in the Implementation of the MDGs for Women and Girls".

The COA representatives also supported side events sponsored by the Philippines: The Road to Indigenous People Empowerment on 16 March and Women in Emergencies: Promoting and Protecting their Rights on 17 March. The Philippines also sponsored #Here4Her: Making Reintegration Work for Filipino Women Migrant Workers on 20 March.

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The Commission on Audit (COA) thru the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO) has launched programs for Campus Recruitment I Career Fair as part of the initiatives under "Strengthen Capacity and Capability" of the COA Strategic Plan for 2016- 2022 which aims to intensify the recruitment process for potential recruits in the fields of Accounting/auditing, legal, information technology and other fields of discipline.

The HRMO, under the -leadership of Director Noel B. Clemente, received an overwhelming response from the country's leading universities and organizations after having a persistent communication with them on possible partnership. Beginning mid of 2016, the team led by Ms. Imelda V. Clave, Officer-In-Charge, Human Resource Policy Studies and Standard Services, already toured several prominent universities. It kicked off at the San Beda College, Manila on October 2016 with over a hundred attendees and University of Sto. Tomas with about nine hundred (900) attendees. Both schools have participants from other universities and colleges within the Metro Manila. It was followed by a 3-day job fair activity at the Ateneo De Manila University - School of Law on January 2017 where Director Carmelita T. Sanchez, Legal Services Sector, shared her knowledge about the legal profession and benefits from working in the Commission.

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The Philippines-Australia Public Financial Management Program (PFMP) is assisting the Philippine government to start shifting from obligation-based appropriations to annual cash based appropriations as a disciplined measure to better manage public resources and deliver on its promise to double infrastructure spending and ramp up social sector spending.

The PFM principals comprised of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) and the Commission on Audit (COA), have endorsed the new reform strategy of introducing cash appropriations.

The foundation of this reform is to shift the focus of the budget system away from incurring obligations to spending cash.

Obligations are intentions, not expenditures. The current system of obligation-based appropriations does not promote disciplined execution of the annual budget,” said DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno. This is the essence of a sound public financial management or PFM system: an annual budget that is promptly funded, implemented and accounted for.

The Government has committed to spend 7% of the country’s GDP on infrastructure following its aggressive mandate to “Build, Build, Build”—a program aimed at ushering in the “Golden Age of Infrastructure” for the Philippines.

“The political priority of the infrastructure agenda gives this PFM reform a hard edge. It is about making the PFM system fit for purpose,” said Gary Ellem, PFMP Team Leader. “We think this is a sound reform that is timely and will help the Government of the Philippines deliver. DBM, BTr and COA are right behind this. Although this reform is a significant change, it builds on key reforms that PFMP has supported in recent years like the TSA, BTMS and PREXC,” he added.

The Treasury Single Account (TSA) is a cash management system that consolidates government accounts and optimizes utilization of the government’s cash resources. The Budget and Treasury Management System (BTMS) is an integrated, web-based financial management information system that covers budget execution and reporting. Meanwhile, the PREXC restructures an agency’s budget around programs to promote a better focus on policy and performance. The move to annual cash based appropriations builds on all three reforms as the basis for a sound, transparent and efficient use of public funds. (contributed by the Public Financial Management Program)

The United Nations formally adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 and already the Commission on Audit (COA) moved to educate its auditors to plan for the audit of eventual Philippine programs under the SDG roadmap.

COA held a briefing on the efforts of the Philippine Statistical System on Gender Statistics and the SDGs on 9 March 2017 at the Professional Development Center as part of its national women’s month celebration. Assistant National Statistician Wilma A. Guillen of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) conducted the briefing.

Assistant National Statistician Wilma A. Guillen of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) briefs COANs on PSA efforts on gender statistics and the Sustainable Development Goals on 9 March 2017.

Officially known as Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDGs are the result of a consultation process among UN member states, civil society and other stakeholders and composed of 17 goals, 169 unique targets, and 230 indicators with focus on economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. The Philippines is one of 193 UN member states who committed to the 17 goals in order to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and fix climate change in the span of 15 years.

Guillen said the member states, including the Philippines, will develop indicators at regional, national and sub-national levels to complement the global indicators. Guillen suggested that the possible indicators that COA can provide are the proportion of total government spending on essential services (education, health and social protection) under Goal 1 (No Poverty) and proportion of countries with systems to track and make public allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment under Goal 5 (Gender Equality).

Guillen also shared PSA efforts to improve the availability of relevant, timely, disaggregated and better quality statistics, including the conduct of a pilot survey on evidence and data on gender equality (EDGE) measuring asset and ownership from a gender perspective and development of methodology for generating multidimensional poverty index.

COA officials emphasized the importance of leveling up auditors’ understanding and appreciation of gender and development (GAD) data for use in the audit of GAD funds as well as the need to invest in statistics to enhance audit services.

Assistant Commissioner Lourdes M. Castillo, COA Gender and Development Focal Point System Technical Working Group Chairperson, stresses the importance of statistics in enhancing audit work.

Meanwhile, COA is already half-way in joining the nation’s celebration of women’s month with focus on collaborative efforts to make change work for women. “Our own GAD Focal Point System has been working tirelessly in implementing GAD programs and projects in the Commission. I am proud to say that women in COA are not only the beneficiaries of GAD programs and projects but are also drivers of change as leaders in the Commission,” Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo said.

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