It is with a mixture of pride, gratitude and hope that I greet the entire Commission on Audit (COA) family as we remember the 121st anniversary of our beloved institution. Since the creation of the Office of the Auditor for the Philippine Islands through a Memorandum signed by then United States President William McKinley on 8 May 1899, the Commission has ensured a healthy measure of prudence in governance through the judicious use of public funds.

It is heartening to be reminded that we are part of an institution that has helped build a strong and independent nation that cares for the welfare of its people. In these challenging times, the Commission has wholeheartedly supported the programs of government in curbing the further spread of COVID-19. We have done our share in helping those vulnerable in this time of calamity, for instance, with the issuance of a joint circular with the Department of Budget and Management allowing contractual workers in government agencies to continue receiving their wages throughout the period of work suspension during the quarantine. We have issued circulars and memoranda providing guidance on matters such as procurement, fund transfers, and donations in order not to unduly hamper government efforts at addressing the current crisis. We have also guaranteed that our workers will get their salaries on time and to augment their resources in this time of need.

I sincerely pray for everyone’s safety and for our renewed focus, once the quarantine is done, to help our nation get back on track.

As we humbly celebrate the Commission’s 121st anniversary in the safety of our homes, I encourage everyone to mark this occasion with grateful hearts and a fresh determination to give our best as guardians of public funds and enablers of government in the efficient and effective delivery of public service for the Filipino people. Let us be thankful for the blessings we have received and continue to receive. And may the Lord hold you safe in the palm of His hand.

I would like to end this message with a few lines from Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata:

 

“You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

 

Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be,

and whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

 

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.”

 

Stay safe.

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As the Commission on Audit celebrates its 121st Anniversary during these difficult and increasingly challenging times brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am greeting everyone with a meaningful and purposeful anniversary.

I would like to take this opportunity to call for unity amongst COAns to pray for those who are suffering, who have lost their loved ones and to heal as one as we hope that this crisis that brought enormous changes to our lives will soon come to pass. Let us also take this time to rest our bodies and minds, meditate and renew our faith for we have much work to do in the coming days.

The Commission continues to be a partner of our country's fight against the unseen enemy who has brought global fears about health, the financial situation, and safety. We are doing our part to help those in need and to continuously safeguard our country's coffers, especially those government funds intended to respond to the current pandemic. As there is much work to be done in auditing COVID-19 funds, I am calling on our auditors and everyone to remain vigilant and to perform our mandated duties without fear or favor.

I hope that everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to these challenges we are now facing.

On our 121st Anniversary, let us continue to support the government's fight against COVID-19. Stay safe and stay well.

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Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo and Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc with Calamba Representative Joaquin M. Chipeco, Jr., Calamba City Mayor Justin Marc SB. Chipeco and COA Regional Director Mario G. Lipana led the groundbreaking ceremony for the Provincial Satellite Auditing Office (PSAO) for the Province of Laguna in Calamba City on 11 February 2020.

Chairperson Aguinaldo expressed his gratitude to the City Government of Calamba, noting the good relationships between the local government and the Commission in the delivery of public service, and in promoting interdependence among government agencies. He said COA empowers and enables government agencies to effectively and efficiently carry-out their mandates to their constituents. He also emphasized principles of pakikipag-usap at pakikipagtulungan between the Commission and government agencies to better deliver public services.

Commissioner Pondoc reiterated the Chairperson’s message, noting that the Commission is an enabler of auditees in good governance.

Meanwhile, Mayor Chipeco and Congressman Chipeco, Jr., said that the establishment of the Regional Government Center in Calamba where the PSAO will be located will bring basic services nearer to constituents and pledged to refurbish the surrounding area. Director Lipana and Assistant Director Maria Oliva V. Ortega expressed their appreciation and gratitude for the assistance provided by the City Government and the COA Commission Proper in the development of the PSAO.

Also in attendance was Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Region IV-A Director Samson L. Hebra who commended the Commission in recognizing their role and assistance in the construction of the PSAO. The event was also attended by officials, auditors and personnel from the COA Central and Regional Offices and officials and personnel from the City Government of Calamba and DPWH Region IV-A.

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Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioner Jose A. Fabia ended his term as Commissioner on 2 February 2020 following six successful years spearheading initiatives to enable COA become a more impactful organization.

Commissioner Fabia was appointed to COA on 2 May 2014 and was confirmed in record time by the Commission on Appointments without opposition from its members on 11 June 2014. He is a lawyer, entrepreneur and servant leader who has contributed effectively in the fields of public accountability, communications and healthcare.

The Commission held a celebration to honor the Commissioner held at the COA Sports and Cultural Complex on 30 January 2020.

Commissioner Jose A. Fabia is joined by his staff who presented him with a painting of their hand prints as a gift during his retirement celebration on 30 January 2020.

Recalling the time when he joined COA, Commissioner Fabia said he asked himself how he could gain the trust and respect of his fellow Commissioner, the Chairman, and COA officials and employees. “The only way to gain their respect is by competence, by transparency and by doing your job beyond the call of duty,” he noted.

Commissioner Fabia said he formed a friendship with his fellow Commission Proper members, who he noted are all strong and very intelligent men and women of the Commission. He noted that while they may not always agree with each other, they have the best interests of the country and the Commission in their hearts.

Commissioner Fabia also paid tribute to his wife who the Commissioner describes as a great partner who inspires and supports.

Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo, Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc, former COA Commissioners Heidi L. Mendoza and Isabel D. Agito, former Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires, Justice Reynaldo P. Cruz, National Labor Relations Commission Commissioner Joseph E. Mabilog, and former Presidential Communications Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” B. Coloma, Jr. were among the guests who joined COA officials and staff in paying tribute to Commissioner Fabia.

“Through the years, the Commissioner has been a great partner. I am grateful for his embrace of the philosophy that hindi lang dapat tayo naghahanap ng mali kundi dapat nagtuturo din tayo ng tama,” said Chairperson Aguinaldo.

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The Commission on Audit (COA) inaugurated its new Provincial Satellite Auditing Office (PSAO) building in Mambajao, Camiguin on 16 January 2020. COA Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc and Camiguin Governor Jurdin Jesus M. Romualdo led the unveiling of the marker and ribbon-cutting ceremony. Camiguin Congressman Xavier Jesus D. Romualdo, Mambajao Mayor Yñigo Jesus D. Romualdo, COA Assistant Commissioner Adelina Concepcion L. Ancajas, COA Regional Director Celso L. Vocal, with COA Region X auditors and personnel as well as representatives from the COA Central Office and provincial and municipal officials of Camiguin attended the event. Commissioner Pondoc expressed his gratitude in behalf of the Commission, noting that the gesture of donation of the land was a manifestation of the good relationship between COA and the local government. He said he is optimistic that COA can work in an interdependent relationship with the local government and encouraged COAns is to do their jobs correctly as mandated by the Constitution and uphold ethical standards and values. He also stressed the importance of honesty and integrity.

Governor Romualdo said that the project is part of his family’s legacy in establishing a government center in the province to bring basic services nearer to the constituents. He assured that the local government shall work hand in hand with COA and other government agencies towards achieving good governance.

Reverend Father Bernard Elvin Q. Simene, SSJV led the celebration of the Mass.

Meanwhile, COA personnel renewed their commitment to uphold integrity during the recital of the Integrity Pledge administered by Atty. Jennevieve Jane R. Maglinao, OIC- Service Chief of the Fraud Audit Services, COA Region X. The Integrity Pledge is an oath of commitment and dedication to public service by employees of the Commission as part of COA’s Integrity Management Program aimed at strengthening the moral uprightness of COA employees. -Contributed by Elaine V. Luzon- Training Specialist III

COA Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc and Camiguin Governor Marcelo Jurdin Jesus M. Romualdo lead the inauguration of the Provincial Satellite Auditing Office in Mambajao, Camiguin. Assisting them are COA Region X Director Celso L. Vocal and COA Administration Sector Assistant Commissioner Adelina Concepcion L. Ancajas.