COA, civil society hold dialogues to enhance citizen participation in public audit and in capacity building activities

Published: 20 February 2018

The Commission on Audit (COA) held three Citizen Participatory Audit (CPA) Dialogues with civil society organizations (CSOs), state universities and colleges, higher education institutions, development partners, and the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA).

The CPA Dialogues are conducted for the purpose of fostering an open space for the COA, citizens, and other external stakeholders to share visions and aspirations, goals and objectives; information on risks and areas to be focused on in audit, and knowledge, talents, expertise and resources that they have and can share; to provide information on their respective needs to enable them to better work together as partners; and, to present their concerns and together identify possible ways to address them.

These were held at the SAADO Auditorium on 12 December 2017, at the COA Regional Training Center in San Fernando, Pampanga on 10 January 2018, and at the COA Professional Development Center (PDC) in Quezon City on 18 January 2018.

(top) COA officials and auditors hold dialogues with CSOs, SUCs, HEIs, and development partners at the Old SAADO Auditorium on 12 December 2017 (center) in the COA Regional Training Center in San Fernando, Pampanga on 10 January 2018 (bottom), and at the COA Professional Development Center (PDC) in Quezon City on 18 January 2018.

The first of the three Dialogues, held at the SAADO Auditorium on 12 December 2017, had attendees coming from the National Capital Region. This Dialogue was attended by 44 COA officials, a mix of directors and auditors, six CSO representatives, one representative from a professional organization, two from the PNVSCA, and from development partners. The CSOs who were present were from the International Holistic Engagement for Life & Progress, the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific Foundation (ANSA-EAP), the International Care Ministries Foundation, Inc.(iCare), and the CODE-NGO. The National Defense College of the Philippines and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines were also represented. The development partners present were from the World Bank and HIVOS International, while the professional organization represented was the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA).

For the dialogue held in San Fernando, Pampanga, around 38 COA officials and auditors held discussions with 12 CSO representatives based in Regions I, II, III, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). The CSOs that were represented were the CODE-NGO Pampanga, CORDNET-CAR, Vibrant Women – La Union, Junior Philippine Institute of Accountants - Region II, Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Government - CAR and Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals - Cagayan Chapter. The Holy Angels University was also represented.

The dialogue held at the PDC was attended by 30 participants from COA and 24 CSO representatives from Regions IV-A, IV-B, and V. The CSOs who participated were the Partnership of Philippine Support Services Agencies, Coalition for Bicol Development, Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers, Inc. COA Sub-Chapter, Quezon City Persons With Disability Federation, Civil Society Coalition on the Convention of the Rights of the Child, Unang Hakbang Foundation Inc., Samahan ng Kababaihan ng Barangay Patunhay, Inc., Persons with Disabilities and Guardians Federation – Manila, Boses ng may Kapansanan sa Pilipinas, Woman Health, PWD Parent Support, Zigzag Homeowners Association, Hope for Youth, Alyansa ng Katutubong Kababaihan ng Bataan, Olongapo at Zambales, Life, Inc., Damayan ng Maralitang Pilipinong API, Inc., Palanque Agrarian Reform Cooperative, PATAMABA- Workers in the Informal Sector Enterprise (WISE), Coalition of Bicol Development, and Peer Counselling Federation.

“Partnering with citizens in performing our auditing mandate is one of the best things that ever happened to the COA. Even this one-day activity has brought to fore shared visions, aspirations, goals, and objectives; and, not only brought out recommendations on what the COA should work on in auditing and in the other areas of its functions, but also, the various resources that CSOs have volunteered to provide when they partner with us,” remarked COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo in his message to the participants at the Dialogue held in Pampanga.

“Civil society organizations, professional organizations, and the academe, many of which are represented in this activity, by their own volition, resources, and efforts, have acquired expertise in monitoring government programs, projects, and activities. Their advocacy efforts are un-paralleled; and, they have played a major role in putting government entities on their toes and driving them to improve their services,” the Chairperson said.

COA Commissioners Jose A. Fabia and Isabel D. Agito, in welcoming the participants to the Dialogue held at the PDC, emphasized the importance of citizen involvement in the workings of government and encouraged participants to make a difference through the CPA program.

During these Dialogues, representatives of the COA, CSOs, and other external stakeholders, were able to share their aspirations and goals for the CPA as well as identify programs, projects, and activities that they want to be audited. Disaster fund utilization, disaster preparedness and rehabilitation; solid waste management; pabahay program for informal-settler families; Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps); scholarship programs; and road construction and rehabilitation were among the suggested audit topics that emerged during the discussions and will serve as input in the strategic audit planning of COA. CSOs also identified resources they have volunteered to share in case of partnership with COA for specific CPA engagements.

To further encourage citizen involvement through the CPA program, the COA held similar Dialogues with CSO representatives in the Visayas and Mindanao Regions in February. #