COA Regional Office No. V held its first webinar entitled, “Role of the Commission on Audit in the Philippine Government’s Response to COVID-19: Emergency and Post Emergency Phases” last July 24, 2020 to navigate its auditors towards the “new normal” and promote vigilance in the continuous performance of their mandates amidst the fears and uncertainties brought by the unprecedented corona virus disease pandemic. The webinar was conducted exclusively for COA Region 5 officials and personnel through streaming via Zoom.
A total of 295 participants attended the webinar which was an initiative of the main resource person, COA Commissioner Roland C. Pondoc. The presentation contained ideas sourced from a study of the World Bank on countries and their respective supreme audit institutions that have experienced and handled past epidemics. In a time when crucial oversight and key controls may suffer because of constraints in the access of information and the urgency to respond to the current crisis, Commissioner Pondoc emphasized that auditors must resort to flexible measures and adopt the right audit interventions to assure continued transparency and accountability without being the bottleneck. COA auditors must also leverage digital information and communication technology and initiate real-time audits of funds appropriated especially for member-agencies of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases in order to provide timely feedback to the auditees. He added that, audit plans must have substantial adjustments and considerations to focus on a more comprehensive review of the government’s response to the pandemic, especially during the post-emergency stage. “COA’s audit/ review can play a key role in obtaining lessons learned to strengthen future economic recovery efforts, financial management and governance systems and the government’s preparedness for future natural disasters”, Commissioner Pondoc said.
Commissioner Pondoc also considered the activity as a channel for consultative discussion with the regional auditors, on the formulation of the necessary guidelines and rules which will be developed by the different Audit Sectors in the Commission. Several clarifications on past issuances and inquiries on current working conditions were raised during the open forum. The participants were advised to practice professional judgment and consider practicality and the urgency of the situation when conducting assessments on their respective agencies.
The webinar ended with a surprise song number performed by no less than Commissioner Pondoc, himself, exemplary of his innate talent and charismatic personality.