Published: 20 October 2021
The Commission on Audit (COA) Gender and Development Focal Point System (GFPS) held a virtual briefing on the Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (GEWE) Pan 2019-2025, the enhanced Gender and Development (GAD) Plan, Budget, and Accomplishment Information System (GPBAIS), the status on the FY 2022 GPB of COA and other matters, via CISCO Webex application on 13 October 2021.
A total 464 COA GFPS officers and members from the Central and Regional Offices led by COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo, Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc and Assistant Commissioner Fortunata M. Rubico, Chairperson of the COA GFPS Technical Working Group, attended the briefing.
Opening the program, Commissioner Pondoc called attention to how women are adversely affected by the ongoing pandemic with more women losing their jobs compared to men and the prevalence of a “shadow” pandemic in which more women fall victim to various forms of violence. He emphasized COA’s commitment to the campaign to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. He also reminded participants that “we are stronger when we work together” in the achievement of shared goals.
Assistant Commissioner Rubico gave an overview of the government’s gender mainstreaming efforts under the Magna Carta of Women, COA’s GAD commitments, responsibilities and efforts through the years, and various client-focused and organization-focused COA GAD issuances as well as discussed GFPS priority matters. She also described the Gender Mainstreaming Evaluation Framework (GMEF) used by Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) to assess the level of gender mainstreaming of an agency. Assistant Commissioner Rubico presented a summary of the COA GMEF Assessment Scoresheet since 2014 and noted that the Commission has already reached Level 4 – commitment enhancement and institutionalization. For this feat, COA was recognized with the 2018 GADtimpala Bronze Award and encouraged the GFPS to enhance gender mainstreaming so that COA may reach Level 5 and attain the Silver Award in the next GADtimpala.
Director Sofia C. Gemora, who chairs the GAD Audit and Gender Issue Analysis Committee, discussed the GEWE Plan 2019-2025 which is a guide and key reference in formulating the agency GAD Agenda and Annual GAD Plan and Budget (GPB). According to the GEWE Plan’s Strategic Framework, it “identifies strategic and catalytic actions to achieve significant reduction, if not elimination, of gender equality in all spheres of life, such that women and men equally participate in, contribute to and enjoy the benefits of inclusive growth, a high-trust and resilient society, and a globally competitive economy.”
It has seven Strategic Goal Areas: Expanded Economic Opportunities for Women; Accelerated Human Capital Development through Investing in GEWE; Significant Reduction in Gender-Based Violence and Enhanced Gender Perspective in Justice, Security and Peace; Expanded Opportunities for Women’s Participation, Leadership and Benefits in Disaster Resilience and Humanitarian Action; Expanded Opportunities for Women’s Participation, Leadership and Benefits in Science, Technology and Innovation, ICT, Infrastructure and Energy; Enhanced Women’s Participation, Leadership and Benefits in Politics and Government Service; and Transformed Social Norms and Culture Promote GEWE.
COA’s roles and responsibilities under Chapter 16 (Plan Implementation and Monitoring) of the GEWE Plan involve improving the practice of gender mainstreaming and the use of the GAD budget, monitoring resources to finance the plan, and continuing monitoring to assess achievement of results, effectiveness of reporting and coordination mechanisms. COA, as an implementing agency and key stakeholder, is responsible for the audit of GAD funds and capacity-building of auditors to ensure more meaningful audits. COA is also expected to strengthen its guidelines in the audit of GAD funds to be aligned with the GEWE Plan.
Meanwhile, the GPBAIS is a system developed and used exclusively by the Commission to facilitate the preparation, review, consolidation and submission of the COA GAD GPB and Accomplishment Report (AR). It was formally adopted and institutionalized with the issuance of COA Memorandum No. 2021-019 dated 2 September 2021.
Director Lorna D. Cabochan of the Information Technology Office said that the system was enhanced to allow consolidation of online submissions of the different committees and additional drop-down options on fields such as Gender Issues/Mandates, Cause of Gender Issues and GAD Result Statement/Objectives. Also discussed was the preparation of the GPB which should contain gender issues/mandates and corresponding programs, activities and projects (PAPs) identified under the COA GAD Agenda 2020-2025.
Director Veronica C. Coscos of the Risk Management and Budget Office said that the percentage of GAD allocation for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 is 11.56% of the total budget of the COA. The Commission’s FY 2021 GPB was endorsed on 5 May 2021 and subsequently published in the COA website on 18 June 2021. She also gave a status on the online submission and approval by various committees for the FY 2022 COA GPB.
The briefing was also the venue for presentation of the GAD Audit Performance Summary Report (APSR) 2009-2018 for national government agencies (NGAs), government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs)/government financial institutions (GFIs), state universities and colleges (SUCs) and water districts (WDs). It is the report that contains tabulation of common GAD observations culled from the Annual Audit Reports of NGAs, GOCCs/GFIs, SUCs and WDs. The basis for categorization of the common observations is COA Memorandum No. 2018-009 dated 14 August 2018 providing for the Checklist of common GAD audit observations.
The APSR contains tables and charts to show the trends in audit of GAD funds during the ten-year period. The top five audit observations listed in the AARs were: Has no GPB prepared; GAD budget less than 5% of total appropriations; GAD funds underutilized; General Statement – only GAD-related PAPs were stated in the Report – No corresponding audit recommendations; and GPB partially implemented.
Director Jonathan B. Beltran of the Public Information Office and team supervisor of the committee that prepared the GAD APSR, noted that GAD audit improved through the years due to COA and PCW issuances. He also noted that the top three most common observations are still prevalent even in recent years with PCW needing to address these as the lead agency in gender mainstreaming with COA continuously bringing these deficiencies to Management. He also expressed hope that the results will provide insight to decision makers in COA, PCW and other oversight agencies in order to standardize and align the guidelines with the roles and responsibilities of COA under the GEWE.
Discussions during open forum included the addition of COVID-19 vaccination to the Commission’s health and wellness program, holistic approach for health and wellness program to be institutionalized and serve as means of verification by the PCW in determining gender issues, effectivity of the Harmonized Gender and Development Guidelines as a tool and agency compliance with the 5% of total agency budget attributed to GAD.
Chairperson Aguinaldo ended the briefing with insightful observations to enhance GAD efforts. Noting the challenges that agencies face in complying with the 5% of total budget allocation to GAD, Chairperson Aguinaldo said the COA GFPS “has really done a lot through the years in bringing clarity on the attribution of the 5%,” and with continuous coordination with the PCW, enabled agencies to enhance their GAD efforts. He reiterated the suggestion for the PCW to expand the menu on the appropriate and allowable GAD PAPs. He also noted that COA has always been a pioneer in GAD and expressed optimism that the Commission will reach the highest score and attain another milestone in the next GMEF Assessment. #