Public presentation highlights participatory audit gains

Key players of the Citizen Participatory Audit (CPA) renewed their commitment to build on the early gains of the project and pursue its institutionalization at the Commission on Audit (COA) as a means of achieving transparency and accountability in governance.

At the CPA public presentation held March 18 at the CoA auditorium, auditors from the central and regional offices of the CoA, implementing agencies and civil society partners gathered to affirm their willingness to continue engaging with citizens in the conduct of performance audits on government projects that are “close to the hearts of the people.”

Palawan State University professor and Engineering Department Dean Nena Zara described her own experience in joining the audit of farm-to-market roads (FMRs)  in select areas in Palawan province. CSO representatives joined the team of CoA auditors and engineers in determining whether the actual infrastructure built matched the program of works for the project.

“This would be my advocacy after my retirement,” she said. “I would still like to share my talents.”

Aside from the FMRs, tourism roads on Cagayan de Oro and the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene project of the Department of Education in Pampanga and Antipolo public schools were covered by Phase 2 of the CPA.

Phase 1 looked into a flood control project in the Kalookan-Malabon-Navotas-Valenzuela area, the solid waste management project in Quezon City, and barangay health centers among recipients of the conditional cash transfer program in Marikina City.

Redempto Parafina, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, highlighted the need for maintaining the independence of civil society partners while recognizing the voluntary nature of their work.

For his part, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista said it is his dream to also have the CPA in the revenue-generating aspect of local public finance.

Commission on Audit Chairman Atty. Michael Aguinaldo assured the audience that the CPA had been included in the commission's strategic plan, even as he identified the challenges in institutionalizing the CPA and securing support for it at all levels of the organization across the country.

After the public presentation, two focus group discussions were held between CoA officials and members of the local media, and between CoA and representatives of Higher Educational Institutions, to identify potential points of cooperation, moving forward.