COA bares gains of participatory audit

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The Commission on Audit (COA) showcased in a forum the achievements of the Citizen Participatory Audit (CPA) program, a partnership with people’s organizations and the general public.

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As a reform strategy and audit technique, CPA brings together civil society organizations (CSOs), citizens and auditors of the COA as an audit team, aimed at strengthening citizens’ involvement in the public audit process for the transparent and efficient use of public resources.

“Since 2012, the CPA has developed models for participatory audit and established online and offline platforms to enhance citizen participation in the public audit process,” COA Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo said during the forum on Friday.

The CPA is also seen as an embodiment of the Philippine government’s commitment to the Open Government Partnership or the global network of countries working towards a more vibrant government-citizen engagement.

During the forum, COA presented the results of the Phase 2 audits, the launching of its nationwide campaign to build CPA hubs in COA regional offices, and its commitment to solidify partnerships with higher educational institutions, business groups and local media.

Three pilot audits were previously conducted during the first phase when CPA started in 2012. These were the CAMANAVA [Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela City] flood control project, the Solid Waste Management program in Quezon City, and the barangay health programs in relation to the Conditional Cash Transfer program in Marikina City.

“We were able to bridge the seemingly disparate viewpoints of state auditors and of citizens. While there were and will still be changes, this is constructive engagement at its best,” Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP) Executive Director Redempto Parafina said.

In Phase 2, which began in late 2014, the CPA looked into farm-to-market roads all over the country using geo-tagging technology and the Water Sanitation and Hygiene program in public schools in Antipolo City and in the province of Pampanga.

“We want a more open government. We want more accountability and the key to that really is transparency. I think we’re still trying to see how far we will bring citizen participation in the audit processing and other initiatives. This is something that we’re learning from,” Aguinaldo said.

“We hope we can still take this further. Citizen Participation in Auditing or other initiatives is Freedom of Information in action. I think we need to show that we don’t need a law. We can actually do it if the agency and people within the agency support that kind of initiative. I think this is one of our ways in moving forward and this is very good for the country,” he added.

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