PCW and COA strengthen call for gender mainstreaming during the 2017 GAD Budget Fora

Gearing up for the government’s preparation of the FY 2019 Gender and Development (GAD) budget proposal, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and the Commission on Audit (COA) convened the one-day 2017 GAD Budget Fora on November 9 and November 10, 2017 for different sets of audiences at the COA Sports and Cultural Center, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.

The forum gathered an estimated total number of 470 representatives from national government agencies (NGAs), attached agencies, bureaus, state universities and colleges (SUCs) and government-owned-and-controlled corporations (GOCCs) for the two days. Also present were representatives from the Department of Budget Management (DBM) and members of the PCW Gender Resource Pool.

In her Welcome Message, COA Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth S. Zosa expressed her hope that the GPB Forum would provide more opportunities for women’s empowerment and contribute to the reduction and eradication of all forms of violence against women. 

“The ultimate goal [of the GAD Budget] is to equalize; and when you equalize, you give more to those who have less,” she stressed.

PCW Deputy Directors Maria Kristine Josefina G. Balmes and Cecile B. Gutierrez likewise emphasized that Gender Mainstreaming of which GAD Planning and Budgeting is included should be implemented not merely for compliance but as a strategy ingrained within the organization’s system to address gender issues relevant to the agency mandate. Gender mainstreaming is a strategy which aims for the inclusion and prioritization of women’s concerns and perspectives within agencies through the creation of gender-responsive programs tailored to positively impact both women and men. COA was cited as the first agency to reach level four in PCW’s Gender Mainstreaming and Evaluation Framework (GMEF) Assessment Tool.

Speakers from the PCW led the series of lecture-discussions which had the same line-up for both Day 1 and Day 2. The round of sessions provided the attendees with a brief background of the GPB, with a specific focus on its legal foundations and the procedures for its preparation; an overview of the Gender Mainstreaming Monitoring System (GMMS) and how the online system facilitates the submission, review and endorsement of GAD Plans and Accomplishment Reports (ARs); as well as status and trends in agency submission of the said documents. PCW also reminded the agencies that under PCW Circular No. 2017-03 or the FY 2019 GAD Budget Call, submission of GAD Plan and Budget Proposals and Accomplishment Reports shall follow the following schedule:

• January 5, 2018 Deadline of encoding and submission of FY 2019 GPBs through GMMS of regional offices, for review of their central office GAD Focal Point System (GFPS); and SUCs, for review of CHED regional offices

• January 12, 2018Deadline of submission of FY 2019 GPBs of constitutional bodies; legislative and judicial bodies; Office of the President and Office of the Vice President; and Other Executive Offices

• January 19, 2018Deadline of submission of FY 2019 GPBs of line departments; and attached agencies and bureaus

• January 31, 2018 Deadline of submission of FY 2019 GPBs of the ARMM; and GOCCs (with budgetary support from the national government) and other government instrumentalitiesDeadline of submission of FY 2017 GAD ARs

COA Director and GAD GFPS Secretariat Chairperson Fortunata M. Rubico and Susana S. Medez, Director of the Professional Development Office, shared the new audit approach and audit areas based on the Revised Guidelines in the Audit of GAD Funds and activities in government agencies (COA Circular 2014-01). 

Aside from the lecture-discussions, technical officers from the PCW conducted one-on-one consultations with agency representatives who wished to seek advice regarding the status of their FY 2018 GPBs. The program culminated with an Open Forum with the panel composed of Ms. Anita E. Baleda, Mr. Robert Matthew C. Romero, and Mr. Macario T. Jusayan of the PCW; Ms. Rubico and Ms. Medez.of the COA; and Ms. Ida Arciaga and Mr. Omar Castañar of the DBM.

Among the pertinent issues raised by the agencies are clarifications regarding the types of programs and activities which can be charged to the GAD Budget; and the inclusion of work leaves, especially for mothers of children with special concerns, and medical check-up for women in the GAD Budget allocation. Ms. Nharleen Santos-Millar, Chief of PCW’s Technical Services and Regional Coordination Division responded to the queries by noting that while currently there is no specific policy allowing the use of the GAD budget for the said concerns, it could be elevated for discussion in a PCW Commissioners’ Meeting. Further consultation with agencies like the Civil Service Commission shall also be conducted.

At the end of the forum, the attendees heeded the call of the PCW and resolved to commit to upholding gender mainstreaming within their programs of their respective agencies.

Now, on its 6th year, the GPB Fora continues to serve as a venue to discuss and level-off concerns on the GAD Plan and Budget preparation, submission and endorsement following the issuance of PCW Memorandum Circular 2017-03: Preparation and Online Submission of FY 2019 GAD Plans and Budgets and FY 2017 GAD Accomplishment Reports and Other Matters on September 29, 2017.