Second woman COA Chairperson assumes office as Commission celebrates National Women’s Month

Published: 17 March 2022

Newly appointed Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Rizalina N. Justol, who is the second woman appointed as COA Chairperson after Ma. Gracia M. Pulido Tan, assumed her first day in office as the Commission opened the celebration of National Women’s Month.

Chairperson Justol was greeted warmly by COA officials and staff led by Commissioners Roland C. Pondoc and Mario G. Lipana. “I am glad to be back at COA, an institution that I have served for ten years as an auditing examiner,” Chairperson Justol remarked. She chose March 1 as the date of her assumption as Chairperson, it being a symbolic date, as it was when she left the Commission in 1996.

Newly appointed Commission on Audit Chairperson Rizalina N. Justol (seated, center) joins Commissioners Roland C. Pondoc and Mario G. Lipana and COA Assistant Commissioners during an informal meeting on her first day in office

Earlier in the day, COA formally joined the nation in celebration of National Women’s Month with the culmination of the 2017-2022 theme: “WE Make Change Work for Women.” The theme highlights women empowerment and women as active change agents and beneficiaries of development.

More than 900 COA officials and staff from the Central and Regional Offices participated in the virtual opening program which included a dialogue with the Commission Proper. The Commission’s celebration of Women’s Month is highlighted by the nationwide conduct of four sessions of training on the audit of Gender and Development (GAD) Funds which will use the new GAD Audit Guide. Developed by the Committee on Audit and Gender Issue Analysis of the COA GAD Focal Point System (GFPS), the GAD Audit Guide provides a step-by-step guide for audit teams in the conduct of audit that contributes to gender equality and promote greater gender-responsiveness in government programs and projects.

“Since the creation and institutionalization of COA’s GAD Focal Point in 2001 to spearhead gender mainstreaming efforts, the Commission had implemented various organization and client-focused initiatives to advance GAD advocacies. I am not surprised that COA has reached Level 4- Commitment, Enhancement and Institutionalization-under the Gender Mainstreaming Evaluation Framework of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and was recognized with the GADtimpala Bronze Award in 2018. With the PCW, I am confident that we will reach the highest level of gender mainstreaming. Rest assured that I will give my wholehearted cooperation and endorsement of all our GAD efforts,” Chairperson Justol said.

Commissioner Pondoc, the GAD Executive Committee Chairperson, noted that COA has been a pioneer in GAD. “We continuously look for ways to level up our gender mainstreaming efforts through our organization-focused GAD programs and projects. More importantly, we enabled our audit clients to boost their own gender mainstreaming efforts. With the dedication of our COA GFPS and the support of COA officials and personnel, I hope that we may reach another milestone in the institutionalization and commitment to GAD,” Commissioner Pondoc stressed.

Commissioner Lipana encouraged the Commission to remain steadfast in its GAD commitments even as the pandemic may have stalled movements towards gender equality. “COA’s intensified capacity building and advocacy programs cater to the needs and concerns of every COA employee as everyone deserves to be given a chance to realize their full potential regardless of gender. Let us all continue to uphold gender equality and women empowerment until a formidable voice of women and men in the Commission can be heard,” he said.

Assistant Commissioner Fortunata M. Rubico, Chair of the COA GFPS Technical Working Group, emphasized that COA’s celebration focused on its mandate and commitment to the Magna Carta of Women and the Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (GEWE) Plan 2019-2025. “As we celebrate the 2022 National Women’s Month, let us all come together to sustain our progress in gender equality to be able to provide a good working environment for our agency and good governance for our country,” she said.

The line-up of activities for Women’s Month also included briefings on GAD Knowledgebase, Revised Plantilla and GAD Audit Performance Summary Reports for CYs 2009-2018 for National Government Agencies, Government Corporations and Local Government Units as well as updates on the COA Order of Execution Management Information System and recent jurisprudence involving disallowances on GAD expenses. Nationwide sessions on gender sensitivity training for COA personnel will also be conducted to provide greater understanding of GAD in the context of work and personal relations within the working environment.