To further understand the functions and public service of the Commission on Audit (COA), the Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral ng Agham Pampulitika ng Ateneo (SAMAPULA) invited COA Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo and Commissioner Roland Pondoc in an afternoon discussion and open forum, August 23, at 8/F Community Center.
Commissioner Pondoc explained why COA existed as a constitutional commission in the Philippines.
“Its function is to safeguard the government funds by placing great emphasis on government agencies’ compliance with the laws, rules, regulations, and preventing against irregular, unnecessary… use of public resources,” Pondoc said.
Pondoc emphasized how COA is an independent auditor of government agencies, which means that they are the ones who check the authenticity of the reports of these agencies.
“We also try our best as auditors to fulfill the mandates of the diffferent government agencies… which means… COA, together with the different government agencies as our auditees, ‘cause we are the external auditors, magkatuwang kami, pero hindi kami magkasabwat. So, when it comes to corruption, we are the [ones] trying to check whether there is a possible… conflict of interest among the different transactions being entered into by the different government agencies,” he explained.
Pondoc introduced the Citizens Participatory Audit as a part of their auditing system, which encourages the private citizens to give COA status updates of the different projects of government agencies.
“With this program, the Citizens Participatory Audit, we also allow participation from the different private sectors in giving us information as far as, for example, the status of a specific government program in a specific far-flung area,” he said.
He further illustrated this program by an example of allowing citizens to use a drone.
“If we will allow the private citizens to use the drone, then make some updates [to be] given to us, as to, ang kalsada na gibuhat didto sa layo na lugar, then probably we can… [get information all the time].
“We encourage the private citizens [to] somehow give us some information on status of different projects. This is part of audit, for us to evaluate whether the programs of the government are being implemented correctly,” Pondoc said.
The COA are also external auditors of international organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Pondoc clarified that as auditors, it is important for them to uphold integrity in their profession.
“As of now, COA is doing its best, lahat naman ito ay trabaho lang, walang personalan… we would also like to implement a good integrity program in COA. That’s why we also have an integrity management program that we also observe within our ranks,” he said.
On a lighter note, Aguinaldo revealed the familial atmosphere of the members of COA.
“Ang COA po ay isang malaking pamilya. ‘Pag pumasok ka sa COA marami kang mga tito at tita, marami kang mga kuya at ate… That’s the kind of atmosphere that we cultivate… because when you’re together… in some kind of [an] anti-corruption crusade, then you also have to stick together,” he said.