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LAWYER: Tapping of private law firm shows weakness of impeach case vs Ombudsman >>> The election lawyer of former president and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has twitted the House prosecution panel over its plan to tap a private firm in prosecuting impeached Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. "[That] exposes the weakness of the prosecution case," election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said in a text message. Macalintal observed that the prosecution had impressed on the public that it had a "strong case" against Gutierrez during the hearings, but that its decision to hire private lawyers belied this.

ARMM LAUNCHES ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE: The government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has announced an anti-corruption campaign that will make use of e-mail and mobile phones in the wake of official audit reports uncovering misuse of public funds by former officials. The Commission on Audit said it had unearthed "the anomalous disbursement of public funds" from 2008 to 2009 by the administration of former ARMM Governor Zaldy Ampatuan...Acting ARMM Governor Ansaruddin Adiong said they were serious in rebuilding the regional government's image, which has been tarnished by issues of fund misuse.

PALACE: NO PRESSURE ON GUTIERREZ DEPUTY >>> Malacañang maintained there was no pressure on the part of the Aquino administration for Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Mark Jalandoni to quit over numerous complaints against him filed before the Office of the President. In a statement yesterday, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Jalandoni's decision to resign "is his own, based on his determination of the strength of the charges filed against him and his potential culpability." "Every public official has the freedom to choose whether to contest the charges or whether, for their own sake or that of the institution they serve, to relinquish their post. Nevertheless, what is important is that the processes were followed," Lacierda said. Jalandoni resigned on Friday, saying he appeared to be next in line among those who are being targeted by Malacañang for dismissal. Jalandoni said the charges leveled against him were baseless.

DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN MARK JALANDONI QUITS: Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Mark Jalandoni resigned from his post yesterday, saying that he appeared to be next in line among those who are being targeted by Malacañang for dismissal. "The charges leveled against me are baseless," Jalandoni said in a short written statement coursed through Assistant Ombudsman and spokesman Jose de Jesus Jr. a day after reports that administrative complaints accusing him of various offenses had been filed with the Office of the President. "In order to spare the Office of the Ombudsman from further controversy, I have tendered my irrevocable resignation as Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon," Jalandoni declared.

ARMM LAUDS GOVERNANCE TRANSPARENCY DRIVE: Residents of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are encouraged by their present regional governance to be vigilant on how public funds are being handled under a proactive anti-corruption mechanism conceived by the ARMM Social Fund Program or ASFP, a conduit of two giant foreign funding institutions assisting the region. The Grievance Redress System (GRS), an electronically-generated quick response mechanism for feedbacks against shadowy fund handling, is being developed by the ASFP Project Management Office (PMO) in what proponents described as "unprecedented" in Philippine bureaucracy. ARMM acting Gov. Ansaruddin Alonto Adiong lauded the GRS proposal, saying this boldly backs up his administration's staunch adherence to transparency, accountability, consultative, and moral governance. Adiong said community residents should take part in the GRS program since "none of us would want public funds to go to waste or to other unwanted purpose" especially in the operations of the ASFP, which handles hundreds of millions of pesos worth of projects funded by the World Bank (WB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

SENATOR DARES AQUINO TO APPLY ANTI-GRAFT DRIVE ON HIS OWN ALLIES TOO: Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, a former ally of ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said on Thursday that President Benigno Aquino III should also go after his own allies for possible graft and corruption and tax evasion. Zubiri said the tax evasion case filed against Mrs. Arroyos son, party-list Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo, appeared to have fit a "template" that would also be used against other Arroyo administration officials. Another Arroyo ally, chairman Prospero Pichay of the Local Water Utilities Administration, is also facing criminal and administrative charges over a bank deal. "They filed a case against Pichay. They filed a case against Mikey. It seems that there is a perceived harassment against the previous administration," Zubiri said in Filipino. "I hope (Aquino officials) won't get personal against the previous administration."

NO ONE IS UNTOUCHABLE: BIR uses Al Capone method vs Arroyo son >>> No one is untouchable any longer. As the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) itself put it, it is using the Al Capone method to nail a son of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for tax fraud. In a move unthinkable for the agency during the nine-year Arroyo administration, the BIR Thursday charged Ang Galing Pinoy party-list Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo and his wife, Angela, with evading taxes. Under the net worth method, tax investigators add up all assets of a subject and subtract all his or her liabilities to calculate the net worth. BIR Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares said the Arroyo couple were found to have a tax liability of at least P73.85 million, including surcharges and interest...The case against the Arroyo couple was the 37th filed by the BIR under its Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) program, a government initiative implemented during the previous administration to shore up government coffers.

COA: ARMM SPENT OVER P1b ON SHADY DEALS >>> Philippines Over P1 billion worth of transactions by the Office of the Regional Governor (ORG) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao during the period from January 2008 to September 2009 under former Governor Zaldy Ampatuan had inadequate, spurious or entirely non-existent support documents. This was the central finding in a 125-page report submitted last March 17 by a team of seven COA auditors to current ARMM Gov. Ansaruddin Adiong...Auditors noted "total disregard of applicable laws, rules and regulations are evident" in many of the transactions involving the questioned sum particularly illustrated by grant of P866.51 million in cash advances which accounted to a whopping 80 percent of the total disbursements of the governors office during that period. While general rules require that payments by government agencies be made through checks for reasons of security, COA reported "highly improbable daily cash payments" ranging from P7 million to as high as P13.48 million. "At one point, one accountable officer was holding P99.88 million in cash, which may already be considered unconscionable in view of the risks involved in maintaining such amount," the team said. "Various purchases without any public bidding totaled P650.98 million and were supported by three price quotations from various suppliers without any indicated addresses in most cases." Auditors discovered another stunning detail - the said procurements were paid out of advances drawn by only one person, chief administrative officer Adham G. Patadon, who was bonded for only P5 million...

CUSTOMS TIGHTENS WATCH ON IMPORTERS: The Bureau of Customs (BoC) has started auditing the insurance declarations of incoming shipments, following reports of importers underdeclaring their premiums in order to scale down the amount of duties they have to pay. Customs Commissioner Angelito A. Alvarez ordered the retroactive verification, audit and reconciliation of insurance declarations of all imports, beginning with those last year...

TWO JUDGES RAISE AQUINO'S HACKLES: President Aquino on Wednesday denounced two judges whose actions "raised several questions" Without mentioning their names, Mr. Aquino said one of the judges issued an arrest warrant against the entire Board of Trustees of the Government Service Insurance System while the other barred the Central Bank from disposing of Banco Filipino's assets...

DILG SECRETARY: STRADCOM DATABASE IS CORRUPTED >>> The database of Stradcom Corporation, the information technology provider of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), is "corrupted," Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse M. Robredo said. This was the findings of Robredo and LTO Assistant Secretary (Asec) Virgie Torres who recently audited the system of registration of cars and confirmed that the database of Stradcom is indeed "corrupted." Both government officials even conducted a secret "experiment" wherein they tried to officially register a non-existent car. But they were only stunned with the result, since the make-believe car managed to pass the registration process without incurring any questions or hurdles. "In our experiment, we were able to register a non-existent car with an official receipt (OR), certificate of registrationpt (CR), verification report, sticker, and plate number. But there was really no car," Robredo told the Manila Bulletin. The normal car registration process requires the vehicle should be taken by the owner to the LTO office. However, during the test buy they conducted, there was no need for the team to present any actual vehicle and, instead, managed to acquire plate number ZNE 491 through a "fixer," someone who claimed to be working for the LTO in Metro Manila, but is actually not an LTO employee.

FINANCE SECRETARY: "The cases that we filed today are testaments to the Aquino administration's continued drive against tax cheats who think that they are above the law. The ways of the past are over. Let me repeat for those who still believe otherwise - it is no longer business as usual. The Aquino government is determined to send to jail all tax evaders and smugglers that rob the Filipino people of their much needed government revenues. Already, we are seeing the fruits of our drive against tax evaders and smugglers. For the first two months of 2011, BIR and Customs collections were up 10.7 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively. This helped the government maintain a fiscal deficit of only P8.1 billion from January to February, which was actually way below the P52.3-billion programmed for the period. It was also much lower than the P70.3 billion posted the same period last year. We want to continue these gains throughout the year and throughout the rest of the Aquino administration."

CUSTOMS SEES P45b WINDFALL FROM SUITS: THE Customs Bureau said Wednesday it expects to gain a P45-billion windfall if it wins all the 30 cases it has filed against suspected smugglers, brokers and brokerage companies. The cases involve 145 respondents, including company owners and Customs brokers importing rice, electronics, sugar, garments, steel, oil, vehicles and petroleum products. Customs has also charged nine Customs officials assigned at the Manila International Container Port and the Port of Manila. Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez said he had beefed up the agency's legal team to make sure it had airtight cases before filing them with the Justice Department.

US RETURNS $132,000 IN FORFEITED LIGOT ASSETS: United States Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. announced Thursday that the US government has turned over to the Philippines $132,000 worth of forfeited assets of Erlinda Ligot, wife of former military comptroller Lieutenant General Jacinto Ligot. "Today, I am pleased to announce the first ever return of funds in the asset forfeiture case where the US government is returning $132,000 to the Philippine government," Thomas announced in a meeting with Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.

MILITARY PROBES FUND CONVERSION INVOLVING OIL PRODUCTS: Gen. Eduardo Oban, Armed Forces chief of staff, has ordered an investigation into the alleged conversion of funds for the supply of petroleum, oil and lubricants to the military reportedly involving hundreds of millions of pesos. The move was prompted by the discovery of the unusually high consumption or delivery of gasoline and other oil products to the Armed Forces, through the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (J-4), by oil company Petron. The J-4 is the same office that military whistle blower retired Lt. Col. George Rabusa said was used by alleged corrupt senior officers in converting hundreds of millions of pesos of military funds...A report said from January up to March 15, a period of less than three months, the J-4 reportedly recorded a total distribution and consumption of gas for the whole Armed Forces in the amount of more than P400 million, which is in excess of the allowed amount of less than P150 million...The investigation will involve looking into the possibility that the petroleum products have been converted into cash by the J-4, and this could be ascertained, partly by looking into the deliveries for specific units, tag cards and other documents...When he was appointed as chief of staff last month, Oban immediately looked into the military's logistics and procurement systems as reform is his leaderships cornerstone. He wanted the reforms, not only at the logistics and procurement offices but even with the whole Armed Forces, to be immediately felt by foot soldiers. "When I assumed office, I said that the first order of the day is no to corruption, no to conversion. These should be stopped. From hereon, we will aggressively pursue reforms. We will give more teeth and muscle to our institutional mechanisms, particularly the internal audit, provost marshal, and inspector general to really check on all the units and on reforms that we wanted to instituted," he told reporters in one of his interviews.

GOVERNMENT SUES PICHAY, 4 OTHERS FOR ALLEGED MISUSE OF LWUA FUNDS: Another ally of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has been charged for the alleged misuse of P400-million fund of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA). The Department of Finance (DOF) filed criminal and administrative charges against former LWUA Chairman Prospero Pichay and members of the agencys board of trustees...The DOF said Pichay and the other respondents allowed LWUA to purchase 60 percent of the outstanding shares of stock of "financially troubled" Express Savings Bank, Inc. and for infusing a capital worth P480 million that was sourced from government coffers.

P-NOY'S REFORMS IN GOVERNANCE CITED: President Aquino deserves praise for appointing whistleblower Heidi Mendoza to the Commission on Audit but should shed more light on the selection process for other government agencies such as the Commission on Elections, a transparency watchdog said Wednesday. Vince Lazatin, executive director of the Transparency and Accountability Network (TAN), said he welcomes the appointment of Mendoza as COA commissioner. "We are very happy that Heidi Mendoza is back in the Commission on Audit. She is the type of person that we need at these kinds of agencies like the COA. I think President Aquino's appointment of a person like Heidi is a message that he does appreciate...Heidi's dogged determination. We've seen that in her Senate testimony. She really does not give up and follows the paper trail," he said in an ANC Headstart interview... Lazatin said Mendoza's appointment and that of former human rights chief Leila de Lima as justice secretary are "parts of a larger puzzle" in President Aquino's campaign to rid the country of corruption. He said moves to impeach Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and dismiss Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III are also part of the President's anti-corruption campaign. "We are seeing moves here by the Aquino administration to reformat the frontline agencies tasked with ferreting out corruption, prosecuting corruption, filing cases, etc," he said. He dismissed criticism by some sectors that Malacañang should focus less on digging up skeletons and do more to create jobs instead. "Governance is a very important part of our future and looking forward we have to look at putting a good governance structure and this begins with quality appointments to key posts such as Ombudsman, COA, DOJ and Supreme Court as well.

PAPER: CORRUPTION RISKS AMONG 50 PITFALLS FOR PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP >>> The effect of corruption and political succession were listed among 50 potential risks facing the smooth implementation of the public-private partnership (PPP) projects, which the Aquino administration identified as a cornerstone of its economic development program, a prominent think tank said in a recent report. Forensic Law and Policy Strategies Inc. (Forensic Solutions) called on government to seriously consider and review the risks it identified in PPP projects before rushing into its flagship program to avoid unreasonably high tariffs, finger-pointing, congressional probes plus other woes in the future it said could dent investor confidence in the Aquino administration.

OMG PUSHES MERCI OUSTER, SHE PLEAS "SPARE MY FAMILY": A group calling itself the Oust Merci Gutierrez (OMG) is taking the fight for the Ombudsman's removal from office right to her door steps. The group, which counts on former Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros and Black and White Movement member Lea Navarro, on Tuesday said would hold a protest-rally in front of Gutierrez' house in Pandacan. Gutierrez for her part cried foul over an assault on a constitutional body and an "intrusion into my family's own privacy." "The incident is lamentable and alarming," she said in a statement appealing for fairness and respect for her residence and the community she lives in. "To my detractors, please spare my family, please spare my community. Let's just stick to the issues," said Gutierrez.

LIGOTS SHOW UP IN TAX EVASION HEARING: Former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot and wife, Erlinda, showed up in the initial hearing of the preliminary investigation on tax evasion charges filed against them before the Department of Justice (DOJ) last March by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)...Their blood pressure (BP) readings were taken by DOJ clinic staff prior to the start of proceedings before Assistant State Prosecutor Steward Mariano. Mrs. Ligot's BP was high at 160/100, while that of her husband's was relatively normal at 150/90...Asked if, contrary to the claim of the BIR, the Ligots filed their income tax returns (ITR) for the years in question - 2001 for Gen. Ligot and 2001-2004 for Erlinda Ligot - their lawyer said, "As far as I know, they did not. But there must be a good reason if and when hindi sila nag-file ng ITR." It is not clear how this admission by Zialcita will come into play in the couple's defense considering that the BIR insists that the couple failed to declare income amounting to over P41-million in 2001; over P103-million in 2002; close to P166-million in 2003; and over P148-million in 2004. The BIR also claims the Ligots made over US$2-million deposits at a local bank allegedly used in making several bank deposits, investments and property acquisitions here and abroad.

HEIDI MENDOZA BACK AT COA BUT GRACE TAN IS NEW CHIEF: ...it's going to be women power at the COA after President Benigno Aquino III Tuesday appointed Mendoza as COA commissioner and former Finance Undersecretary Grace Pulido-Tan as COA chair...Tan, a lawyer and certified public accountant (CPA), will replace Reynaldo Villar, whose term as head of the COA, expired on Feb. 2, according to Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang. Tan's term will expire on Feb. 2, 2015...Tan served as finance undersecretary from May 2003 to February 2005 under the Arroyo administration. She is presently a tax consultant and legal adviser and also serves as independent director at Asia United Bank and Rural Bank of Angeles. Tan is also currently a professor at the University of the Philippines, teaching Mandatory Continuing Legal Education. She served as consultant for the Senate ways and means committee in 2006 and was a commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government from October 2002 to May 2003. A UP law graduate, she took her Master of Laws at New York University. She is a graduate of Business Administration and Accountancy at UP... Mendoza, 48, a CPA and career COA official, will assume the post left by Commissioner Evelyn San Buenaventura and her term will end on Feb. 2, 2018...Mendoza was a United Nations senior external auditor and professional lecturer/trainer/author. She was a program analyst of the Asian Development Bank from Oct. 1, 2010, to Jan. 21. Her career at the COA started in 1996 as state auditor. From March 2003 to September 2004, Mendoza was financial consultant at the Transparency Group of the Office of the Presidential Chief of Staff. She was assigned to the Office of the Ombudsman in September 2004 as team leader of the COA group that investigated Garcia. Mendoza has a Master's degree in National Security Administration at the National Defense College of the Philippines and a Master's in Public Administration at UP. She is a commerce graduate, major in Accounting at Sacred Heart College in Quezon province.

MILITARY CORRUPTION WHISTLEBLOWER IS NEW AUDIT COMMISSIONER: Heidi Mendoza gained popularity by exposing the alleged "rotten system" in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during Senate hearings on the plea bargaining deal entered by government prosecutors with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia, who is facing plunder charges.

HEIDI MENDOZA TAKES UP THE CHALLENGE: Military corruption whistleblower Heidi Mendoza on Tuesday said she is ready to serve again in the government as a commissioner in the Commission on Audit (COA). Mendoza, who was in Iloilo City when President Benigno Aquino III announced her appointment, thanked her supporters and also welcomed the appointment of a new COA chairperson. She said she is ready to return to government...Mendoza said it was not easy for her to reveal alleged corruption in the military because she may have caused some COA officials to dislike her. She said she is wants to work with new COA chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan. "I believe in her competence of course in her moral capital as well so i believe ...together we can run the agency well," she said. Mendoza also believes that her previous experience in the agency will help implement reforms in the COA. She is determined to face her critics. "We cannot run all the time.

PCGG TO PROBE SECRET MARCOS WEALTH IN AUSTRALIA: The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) will look into the reported ill-gotten wealth of the late president Ferdinand Marcos in Australia believed to be under the name of a former swimsuit model whose daughter was reportedly dropped from a reality TV show after producers learned her father was the Philippine dictator. "We will look at the money trail and see if the amount to be recovered would be worth the lawyers' fees we would be spending for it," PCGG Chairman Andres Bautista said

NGOs COME TOGETHER TO HELP GOVERNMENT SHORE UP FINANCES: An alliance of non-government organizations (NGOs) led by Social Watch Philippines (SWP) has agreed to help the Department of Finance (DoF), Bureau of Customs (BoC) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) raise more revenues to support a pro-poor national budget. "The new plans, strategies and policies of DoF, BIR and BoC are commendable, but we need assurance that these will be undertaken. It is the role of citizens' groups to see to it that their targets for reform and contributions for a pro-poor budget are fulfilled and that the revenue targets are reached with the support," said former national treasurer Leonor Magtolis Briones, SWP lead convenor, during the recently held Second Open Budget Partnership Forum with the heads of the three agencies. Senator Teofisto Guingona III, who authored nine bills on budget reforms when he was a congressman and who authored the Bill on People's Participation in Budgeting in the Senate, organized the forum.

DPWH PARTNERS WITH CSOs TO FIGHT CORRUPTION: The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)...is...partnering with the CSOs and NGOs in the procurement or bidding process, implementation or actual construction, operation and post project evaluation. The move is in line with the DPWH transformation framework which Secretary Singson has drawn up for full transparency and accountability to the people and to reduce corruption. Reacting to the recent Pulse Asia survey where DPWH ranked third among the government agencies perceived to be corrupt and with a huge decrease of 13.8% from the last year's survey, Singson said that he was not pleased with the result. He further said that he vows to continue with his fight against corruption at all levels in the DPWH. Singson said that he is counting much on the CSOs and NGOs in seeing to it that every single cent of taxpayers' money goes to the right project with the right cost and right quality.

SENATOR CRITICIZES GOVT CORP CONTROL BILL: Senator Joker Arroyo criticized a bill that would allow President Benigno Aquino III to hand out 1,570 plum positions in government-owned and controlled corporations to his supporters, and in the guise of instilling financial and fiscal discipline in those organizations. "Translated, this is a patronage bill," Arroyo said of the bill filed by Senator Franklin Drilon..."The [incumbent] CEOs and directors don't have to be informed or removed. All that needs to be done is to appoint their successor and pronto, their terms of office automatically end." Drilon claimed there was a need to reform state-owned corporations and to plug the drain in the national treasury that they supposedly were causing through inefficiency and corruption.

SOME P-NOY HOUSE ALLIES DEMAND "MONEY" FROM CUSTOMS BUREAU: IT seems that some lawmakers who are supposed allies of President Benigno C. Aquino III are "laughing" on his "straight path" campaign as a small group of congressmen now allegedly demanding "grease money" from collectors of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in some major ports of the country. A well-placed source from one of the House committees who refused to be identified disclosed that the small group of lawmakers is asking the collectors to give them P500 to P1,000 per container van. The source said the small group of lawmakers comes from a powerful committee whose task and responsibilities are about "taxation." "Despite P-Noy's 'straight path' campaign, this small group of lawmakers is trying to play around and find ways how to get around with the President's tough order to push clean governance. Makakapal ang mukha,"

OMBUDSMAN DELAYS LEAD TO JUNKING OF CRIMINAL CASE: The Sandiganbayan anti-graft court has dismissed 2 criminal charges against former Malolos City Mayor Danilo A. Domingo citing unreasonable delay by the Office of the Ombudsman in conducting its investigation and filing the case. Presiding Justice Edilberto Sandoval, Sandiganbayan Second Division chairman, upheld Domingo's argument that his constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases was violated because the informations were filed with the graft court only on March 5, 2009 more than five years after the complaint was lodged with the Ombudsman. Associate Justices Teresita Diaz V. Baldos and Maria Cristina J. Cornejo concurred. "The Court found the delay inordinate and unreasonable as to be violative of the respondent's right to due process and to speedy disposition of cases against him, warranting the dismissal of the criminal cases," the Sandiganbayan declared.

OMBUDSMAN SLAMMED: Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday blasted the Office of the Ombudsman for openly defying an order of the Palace for the dismissal of Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III over the case of slain hostage-taker Rolando Mendoza. She said the defiance exhibited by Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez should be dealt with firmly and decisively by the Office of the President. De Lima echoed the stand of the Palace that the President has disciplinary power over deputies of the Ombudsman under RA 6670 (Ombudsman Act of 1989). She stressed that while Gutierrez is protected by the law from actions from the President to protect her independence in prosecuting graft cases against public officials, her deputies do not enjoy the same immunity.

"PUBLIC OPINION SHOULD NOT DICTATE IMPEACHMENT": A House leader allied with former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez should not be based on public opinion. "A senator sitting as a judge in the impeachment court must make his own judgment based on his personal appreciation of the evidence and the law irrespective of the temper and whim of public opinion," Minority Leader and Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: GUTIERREZ'S FATE DEPENDS ALSO ON PUBLIC OPINION >>> In the end, it will not only be the so-called senator-judges that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez will have to convince of her innocence. The way Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III sees it, he and his colleagues, who will sit as judges in the impeachment court that is the Senate for Gutierrez's trial, will decide Gutierrez's fate based partly on public opinion. "Public opinion or reaction will play a role on how the issue will be decided," he said.

OPPOSITION LAWMAKER SEES LONG IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: An opposition lawmaker Sunday ruled out the possibility that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez would be convicted before her retirement in December 2012 in the Senate impeachment trial scheduled to begin next month. But the House prosecution team is optimistic that it would wrap up the impeachment case against Gutierrez between June and October because senators would not allow the trial to drag on and affect their congressional duty. "The longer it takes, the better it is for Merci," Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said amid talk that Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would want Gutierrez to resign to avoid a full media coverage of corruption charges against the former president.

ARMED FORCES CHIEF BACKS TURNOVER OF BUDGET MANAGEMENT TO DEPT. OF NATIONAL DEFENSE: Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Eduardo Oban expressed support for proposals to turn over management of the military budget to the Department of National Defense (DND)..."I would like to emphasize that the soldiers will continue to serve our country. Some of them, a handful of them, were implicated in corruption but this does not speak for the entire organization," he said. Oban ensured that abuses such as the diversion of funds and the giving of hefty sums to top officers would not happen under his watch. Oban expressed his support for a civilian agency to handle the military's budget affairs to disallow any opportunity of corruption in the ranks. "For as long there is a check and balance and in the spirit of transparency, accountability and fairness, and for as long as it can respond to the military requirements in the most expeditious and most efficient way, I dont have any problem with that," Oban said... Oban also exhorted the troops to prove that they are men of honor even in the wake of a recent Pulse Asia survey showing the AFP is the most corrupt state agency.

ENRILE ADVISES MERCI: STAY OUT OF DEPUTY'S DISMISSAL CASE >>> Saying she already has her own problems to face, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Sunday advised embattled Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to keep her distance from Malacañang's order dismissing Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III. Enrile also pointed out Malacañang was well within its rights to order Gonzalez's dismissal because the President has the power to hire and fire anyone except those who the Constitution and the laws say can be removed only through impeachment.

BETRAYAL OF PUBLIC TRUST CASTS GIANT SHADOW ON SENATE: How do you measure betrayal of public trust? >>> Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero posed this question as he admitted that it is a challenge for him, and maybe the other senators, to establish betrayal of public trust - the main contention in the six Articles of Impeachment transmitted to the Senate by the House of Representatives against Ombudsman Merceditas N. Gutierrez. "At the end of the day, all of these are based on betrayal of public trust, not corruption, not bribery," Escudero said.

DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN FIRED OVER HOSTAGE CRISIS: Malacañan has made an example of the accountability it could exact from the Office of the Ombudsman. In a press briefing, Presidential Communications Secretary Ramon Carandang announced that the Office of the President (OP) has fired deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III over the case of police officer Rolando Mendoza, the hostage-taker in the August 2010 Manila hostage incident. Carandang said the decision was signed yesterday (March 31) by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr.. It cited Gonzalez for alleged gross neglect of duty and gross misconduct in handling the dismissal-complaint against Mendoza...In its 15-page decision the OP found an inordinate and unjustified delay in the resolution of the motion for reconsideration Mendoza filed regarding his dismissal from the police servicea clear neglect of the performance of official duty. It also said that the delay in the resolution of Mendoza's appeal that spanned 9 months constituted a flagrant disregard of the Office of the Ombudsmans Rules and Procedure. The OP also said there was substantial evidence to prove that Gonzalez committed gross misconduct for showing undue interest in taking over. The delay was also unjustified since there was no opposition to Mendoza's appeal. Ochoa added: "The circumstances surrounding the charges of gross neglect of duty and gross misconduct lent credence to Mendoza's accusation during the hostage incident that Gonzalez was extorting P150,000 from him in exchange for a favorable decision."

MERCI DEFIES PALACE BY DECLARING DEPUTY ACQUITTED: The embattled Ombudsman, Merceditas Gutierrez, is defying Malacañang by declaring that her deputy Emilio Gonzalez III, ordered dismissed by the Office of the President on Thursday, has already been acquitted in an internal probe. According to Gutierrez's official statement, the matter of her deputy's culpability is "legally final and closed." Gutierrez said that an internal investigation by her office has already found Gonzalez not culpable in the deadly August 23, 2010, hostage-taking crisis in Luneta.

OMBUDSMAN DEFIANT, WON'T FIRE DEPUTY: The Office of the Ombudsman said it will not implement a Malacañang order dismissing Deputy Ombudsman Emilio A. Gonzalez III. ...Assistant Ombudsman Jose de Jesus questioned Malacañang's authority to sack Gonzalez since the Ombudsman's Internal Affairs Board had already cleared him of any offense. Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez further noted that the Ombudsman is independent from any other office of government as shown in Sec. 4, Art. XI, 1987 Constitution and Section 21 of Republic Act 6770...Gutierrez added: "In view of the foregoing, this Office has considered the matter of DO Gonzales culpability in the hijacking episode as legally final and closed."

PALACE TO OMBUDSMAN EXEC: APPEAL CASE OR FOLLOW DISMISSAL ORDER >>> Exercise your legal options, or comply with the dismissal order. These were the options Malacañang presented to Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III, as it disregarded Gonzalezs "acquittal" by impeached Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. "While we agree there are remedies available to Gonzalez such as filing a motion for reconsideration with the Office of the President (OP) or seeking relief from higher courts, he must comply with the decision of the OP, which is considered executory, if he has no plans of making use of available remedies)," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on government-run dzRB radio... "The Ombudsman, not being a co-equal or separate branch of government or an appellate court, has no choice but to implement the decision of the OP. Its job is to execute the order," she said.

JUSTICE SECRETARY DE LIMA: DISMISSAL OF OMBUDSMAN EXEC "A GOOD DEVELOPMENT" >>> Justice Secretary Leila de Lima welcomed the Office of the President's move to dismiss Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III for his alleged delay in resolving the case of slain police Inspector Rolando Mendoza..."That is our recommendation, so I guess that would really be a positive point insofar as Hong Kong authorities are concerned. The IIRC [report] was modified by the Palace legal team. But on the matter about Gonzalez, it was not changed and was adopted," said De Lima...De Lima chaired the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC), which investigated the hostage-taking. The IIRC strongly criticized Gonzalez's handling of Mendoza's case. In its first report, the IIRC recommended that Gonzalez and his boss, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, be penalized for "gross negligence and grave misconduct in handling the case against Mendoza." The committee noted that it took the Office of the Ombudsman nine months before acting on Mendoza's appeal. "Ombudsman Gutierrez and Deputy Ombudsman Gonzalez committed serious disregard of due process, manifest injustice and oppression in failing to provisionally suspend the further implementation of the judgment of dismissal against Mendoza pending disposition of his unresolved motion for reconsideration," said the first report. "By allowing Mendozas motion for reconsideration to languish for nine long (9) months without any justification, Ombudsman Gutierrez and Deputy Ombudsman Gonzalez committed complete and wanton violation of the Ombudsman prescribed rule to resolve motions for reconsideration in administrative disciplinary cases within five (5) days from submission," it added.

OMBUDSMAN URGED TO HEED PALACE DISMISSAL ORDER: Malacañang said Saturday the Office of Ombudsman has no option but to implement the Palace's decision to fire Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III for sitting on the case of former Sr. Insp. Rolando Mendoza, which prompted the dismissed police officer to hold a busload of Hong Kong tourists hostage in August last year. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte acknowledged the decision finding Gonzalez administratively liable for neglect and misconduct amounting to betrayal of public trust may still be appealed to the Office of the President or the courts but failure to do so within the allotted time would make the ruling final and executory. Valte was reacting to the Office of the Ombudsman's announced defiance of the Palace's dismissal order.

OMBUDSMAN ON "TRIAL BY TWITTER": In an age of instantaneous public responses and social networking sites, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez will probably need to do more than just convince senator-judges that she should keep her post and retire with dignity next year. Even before the Senate could officially hear the complaints against her, Gutierrez has been subjected to a "trial by Twitter" as could be gleaned from angry and insulting remarks against her in the popular site during the proceedings at the House of Representatives.

AHEM!
croc3.jpg

SOLON: OMBUDSMAN FAILS TO ACT ON SCAM CHARGES VS AGRICULTURE OFFICIALS FOR FERTILIZER FUND PLUNDER >>> Complainants and endorsers of the impeachment complaint against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez yesterday bared no case had been filed to date against former Agriculture Secretary Luis "Cito" Lorenzo and undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc-joc" Bolante on the plunder of P728 million fertilizer fund, which according to them, is a clear proof of the Ombudsmans gross inaction and negligence of duty. "As of last Friday, not a single case was filed by the Ombudsman against former Agriculture Secretary Luis "Cito" Lorenzo and Undersecretary Jocelyn "Joc-joc" Bolante on the plunder of P728 million fertilizer fund," Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) secretary general Danilo Ramos, one of the complainants, said during a press briefing at the House of Representatives

DEPT. OF EDUCATION FARES WELL IN CORRUPTION SURVEY: The Department of Education (DepEd) was once again perceived by the public as one of three government agencies considered least corrupt based on the most recent Pulse Asia survey results. Education Secretary Armin Luistro welcomed this positive rating and attributed the result to the "continuous serious efforts of management to stamp out corruption in all levels of operation." Luistro said that DepEd continues to optimize use of the agency's human and financial resources and move towards zero-corruption. "Our goal is for DepEd to finally be stricken off the list of offices which are considered corrupt," he stressed. Through the years, there has been a declining public perception of corruption in DepEd owing to the safeguards and corruption prevention measures initiated during the time of former Secretary Jesli Lapus and further strengthened by the current DepEd chief.

TWO SENATORS ACCUSED OF BENEFITTING FROM POLL FRAUD: Senators Edgardo Angara and Loren Legarda should be removed from the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) because they benefited from electoral fraud along with Juan Miguel Zubiri in the May 2007 polls, losing senatorial bet Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III said. In a Motion to Disqualify filed by his father and legal counsel, former Senator Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel, the younger Pimentel wants the SET to disqualify or remove from SET membership the two senators "not only for ethical reasons but for having benefited from electoral fraud" in the province of South Cotabato. "Under the circumstances, they cannot be trusted to render a verdict that is based on the requirements of fairness, truth and justice," the losing senatorial bet said.

P-NOY SAYS FISCAL UNDER PROBE FOR FAVORING DRUG SUSPECTS: President Aquino bared here yesterday that a provincial prosecutor was under investigation for allegedly favoring drug suspects. "There is a provincial fiscal that has reached my attention (and) who is suspected to have favored people suspected (to be) engaged in drugs. He is now under investigation, he will go through the process," the President said..."But if it is proven, I will see to it that he is dismissed from the service and every sanction that can be placed on him will be done. So, that will be the first case to really show everybody how serious we are with this," the President said.

SANDIGANBAYAN DECIDES 18 YEAR OLD CASE RULING PRIOR OMBUDSMAN BOTCHED CASE VS 8 EX-PNP OFFICIALS >>> The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has acquitted 8 former Philippine National Police (PNP) officials on graft charges concerning alleged spurious purchase of P20-million worth of uniform and equipment in 1992. The court, in its decision, cited weak evidence submitted by the Office of the Ombudsman...They were accused of conspiracy in defrauding the government of P20 million that was supposedly issued for the acquisition of combat clothing and individual equipment for personnel of PNP-Region 7 office. A fact-finding team formed by the PNP to investigate the transaction reported that no actual purchase took place. Logistics and supply officers confirmed the result of the probe by saying they received no such supplies. However, the Sandiganbayan, in its 45-page decision, said the prosecution botched the case by failing to present the original 407 checks issued on August 11 to 14, 1992, which are crucial evidence in identifying the payees and the negotiation for encashment. Prosecutors merely presented microfilm copies of the checks that were authenticated by an officer of the Land Bank of the Philippines. According to the graft court, the microfilm copies only proved the existence of the checks but were insufficient to substantiate their contents, including establishing who were the payees and who converted them to cash.

CORRUPTION STILL TOP DETERRENT TO US INVESTMENT: The United States has cited various barriers to trade and investments in the Philippines that block American business entry into the country, but corruption, "a pervasive and longstanding problem in the Philippines," still tops the list. In its National Trade Estimate (NTE) report posted on its website, the US Trade Representative said reports of corruption remain common. "Foreign and domestic investors express concern over the propensity of Philippine courts and regulators to stray beyond matters of legal interpretation into policymaking and about the lack of transparency in these processes. There also are reports of courts being influenced by bribery and improperly issuing temporary restraining orders to impede legitimate commerce," the USTR said in the NTE. The report cited that over and above Constitutional restrictions on ownership of businesses, the Philippines has import policies that bar trade such as in automotive, which hinders exports of motorcycles from the US; corruption in the customs bureau; inconsistent implementation and delays in government procurement; non-completion of legislative reforms in intellectual property protection; among other things...The report said despite efforts of the Philippines to streamline payment and permits processing at many government agencies, reports of corruption and other irregularities in customs processing persist, including undue and costly delays, continued private-sector involvement in the valuation process, the use of reference prices rather than declared transaction values, and customs officials seeking the payment of unrecorded facilitation fees.

GRAFT RAPS FILES VS EX-ENVOY TO UN: The Office of the Ombudsman has filed two corruption charges against former United Nations Ambassador Lauro Baja Jr. at the Sandiganbayan on Tuesday. In a document filed March 29, the Office of the Special Prosecutor said internal investigation showed Baja misappropriated government funds and was guilty of violating anti-corruption law in two separate instances. One of the cases stemmed from the repairs made in the Philippine government's townhouse in New York City, where Baja used to live as the permanent representative to the UN. The Ombudsman said the repairs made in 2003 were anomalous, saying no bidding was held for the contractors. Baja also claimed insurance for the alleged loss of his wife's jewelry in 2006 which he used for personal purpose, the Ombudsman said.

POTATO IMPORTER FACES P380m RAP: The Bureau of Customs (BOC) filed a multimillion-peso suit yesterday against a major importer of sliced potatoes, which supplies these products to groceries and giant fast-food chains operating in the country. BOC Commissioner Angelito Alvarez filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) a P380-million technical smuggling suit against Makati-based Kool 8 Enterprises for "undervaluation of imports by as much as 62 percent." The shipments of 10.2 million kilos were declared by the importer to have a dutiable value of only $0.47, equivalent to little more than P20 a kilo. Kool 8 proprietor Ramon Pinero and Customs broker Ricardo Ebuna were charged with gross undervaluation, falsification and use of falsified documents.

DATA BASE FOR GOVERNMENT HUMAN RESOURCES ORDERED: President Aquino has ordered the establishment of a comprehensive database of government personnel to effectively manage and control public expenditures and prevent any abusive releases. In Executive Order No. 31, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was assigned to prepare an accurate Comprehensive Database on Government Manpower (CDGM) for the management of Personal Services (PS) appropriations in the next three years. The CDGM will replace the existing Government Manpower Information System (GMIS), a computer-based management information system on employees in the Executive, Legislative, and the Judiciary, as well as constitutional offices. The database will now include the military and other uniformed personnel, casual and contractual government workers, and employees of government-owned and-controlled corporations (GOCCs), and government financial institutions (GFIs).

ARMED FORCES CORRUPTION ALARMS SOLON: Citizens' Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna said the AFP should now make serious reforms to counter the negative public perception, saying it "endangers the lives of the people." "A continuing drop in the reputation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is dangerous, we have to help as a society to stop this slide," said Tugna. Tugna said the sense of insecurity as far as safety is concerned is unhealthy for a people and for the economy. He said the government should hasten the investigation on the corruption in the AFP and immediately suggest a solid solution and right away work on its implementation.

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COA IntegriNews
NEWS ABOUT CHANGES IN THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT

 
Maria Gracia Pulido Tan new Chair of Commission on Audit
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Heidi Mendoza new COA commissioner

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Mendoza dared: Start cleaning your office

A PARTY-LIST lawmaker yesterday challenged newly-appointed Commission on Audit (COA) commissioner Heidi Mendoza to start cleaning her office of the so-called undesirables.

Alyansa ng mga Grupo ng Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan (AGHAM) Rep. Angelo Palmones lauded President Aquino for his very sound decision as she urged Mendoza to clean her own backyard first.

“I commend P-Noy for appointing Heidi Mendoza as COA commissioner. It’s indeed a wise pick to get rid of corrupt officials in the government. Heidi can start in her own backyard,” said Palmones on Mendoza who made series of expose about the alleged widespread and high-profile corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr. and Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro “Teddy” Casiņo also commended the decision of President Aquino.

“The President made a very sound decision in appointing Ms. Mendoza at CoA. This would surely boost his campaign against graft and corruption. This is a very welcome
development and a laudable act on the part of the President,” said Barzaga on the President’s decision which includes the appointment of Finance Undersecretary Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan as chairman of the CoA.

Casiņo said “the appointment of Ms. Heidi Mendoza as COA commissioner can be the best thing that ever happened to the agency if it is followed by aggressive and concerted actions by COA officials and its rank and file to fulfill the agency’s mandate.”

But Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros Magsaysay and Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles challenged the whistle-blower to perform immediately so that she can deliver her advocacy against graft and corruption.

“She better walk the talk,” said Magsaysay, adding that it is important and crucial now for Mendoza to back up with concrete actions what she claimed before during congressional inquiries.

 
Heidi Mendoza believes she is welcome at audit body

By Leila Salaverria, Philippine Daily Inquirer - 04/06/2011

Newly appointed audit commissioner Heidi Mendoza believes she is returning to the Commission on Audit with the support of its personnel.

Mendoza said Wednesday that she had talked with CoA personnel before her appointment, and they assured her that they were behind her and her cause to do what is right.

She told the Philippine Dailsy Inquirer that she accepted the position of member of the commission because she could not turn her back on those who believed in her crusade.

 
 
Some COA folk not exactly jumping for joy at Mendoza's return

By Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer - 04/06/2011

Old colleagues at the Commission on Audit (COA) are not exactly jumping for joy at Heidi Mendoza’s return and are hoping she will put her money where her mouth is - that is, get rid of scalawags in government.

Some officers and employees are still hurting from Mendoza’s earlier statements that have tarnished the institution’s name, COA officials said Tuesday.

And they ask, why is she going back now?

Outgoing COA Chair Reynaldo Villar acknowledged the resentments.

"Hindi mawawala yun (That can't be helped)," Villar said. "I don't know what is going to happen. I don't know, with everything she has done… To a certain extent it has affected the COA, it has damaged its image."

Mendoza earlier said some officials were not supportive when she was investigating anomalies in the military.

Assistant Commissioner for Finance Isabel Agito said she was surprised by Mendoza’s return. "After all that she had said about the COA, that it is corrupt, why does she want to go to a corrupt agency?"

Agito said Mendoza’s "sweeping statements" against the agency hurt people who felt there were also a lot of very honest workers at the commission.

"I hope she just didn't bring down the institution. I hope when she comes in, she would do something good to improve the institution," said Director Rolando Macale of the COA public information office.

Leonor Boado, head of the fraud audit investigation office, said that the commission had uncovered a lot of anomalies and busted a lot of corruption activities. She was also surprised that Mendoza would rejoin the audit agency, after all that she had said.

Boado said Mendoza should do what she said she would, which is to clean up the government.

She also said that regardless of who is heading the COA, its personnel would continue doing their best to serve the people and protect the institution.

"Officials come and go, but the institution stays. The institution should be preserved," she said.

As for the incoming COA chair, Villar said it would be good if she would meet with senior officials to find out what needs to be done at the agency. He also hopes the new chair would continue with reforms at the commission.

 

Is Heidi Mendoza in for an unkind welcome at COA?

The appointment of state auditor turned whistle-blower Heidi Mendoza as Commission on Audit (COA) commissioner has been met with raised eyebrows within the agency she allegedly discredited. Mendoza explains her sentiments about and plans for the agency in an interview with Jessica Soho on 'State of the Nation

 

Heidi Mendoza eyes open-door policy in COA

Newly-appointed Commission on Audit (COA) commissioner Heidi Mendoza on Wednesday said she will adopt an "open-door" policy in the COA that will allow employees to voice their concerns and give suggestions on how best to clean up the agency.

Speaking to ANC, Mendoza said some COA employees are excited about starting anew and polishing the image of the commission.

"They know how to conduct audits the way it should be done. Many people are excited to start and do it the way its supposed to be done. I'm looking at -- what are the possible openings so they can connect and can express their message and send their reports, I am a bit open to both," she said.

She said she also believes she can do more to change the COA from within, rather than working outside as a critic.

"When you are outside government, nothing is good enough. When you are inside, somebody will be knocking at your door and you will have lots of opportunity to extend yourself. I'm opening my door to anyone. Mas maraming kakatok pag nasa loob ka eh. Kakaunti kakatok pag nasa labas," she said. ...

The COA was previously ranked the 6th most corrupt government agency, according to a Pulse Asia perception survey.

The survey, conducted last February 24 to March 6, showed that Mendoza was considered the most credible of 6 personalities involved in the military corruption scandal.

Bayan Muna party-list lawmaker Teddy Casiņo praised Malacaņang for appointing Mendoza to the COA.

"The appointment of Ms. Heidi Mendoza as COA commissioner can be the best thing that ever happened to the agency if it is followed by aggressive and concerted actions by COA officials and its rank and file to fulfill the agency's mandate," he said in a statement.

He added: "Her integrity and competence should be made to infect and animate the entire bureaucracy. Otherwise she will just end up as a useless decoration."

 
From Feb. 1 through April 6, 2011 a total of
285
media articles have mentioned Heidi Mendoza's role as an auditor and witness in the Philippine military corruption scandals and her appointment to COA.
 
On YouTube there are about
192
videos of Heidi or mentioning her testimony or related to her new post.
 
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I can’t walk from danger all the time – Heidi

by Domingo B. Natividad V

Whistle-blower Heidi Mendoza is back at the Commission on Audit (COA) after being named commissioner by President Benigno S. Aquino on Tuesday.

Mendoza, in an interview, said she cannot allow herself to walk away from danger all the time. This, in response to queries why she accepted the position at COA, the institution she left after uncovering anomalous transactions at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Mendoza revealed in Congressional hearings earlier that she received death threats and experienced sleepless nights after discovering the extent of corruption in the AFP.

With her appointment, she assured the Filipino nation of a stricter and better auditing service from COA. Meanwhile, the Filipino public hailed the appointment of Mendoza saying that her person is the kind of people that COA needs to fight graft and corruption in government...

OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

President Benigno Aquino III has appointed whistleblower Heidi Mendoza as commissioner of the Commission on Audit (COA).


Aquino also named Maria Gracia Pulido Tan as the new COA chairman.


Mendoza worked for the COA for over 20 years and had been part of fraud audit investigations of government transactions. She made headlines in February after her explosive testimony before Congress on the alleged misuse of military and United Nations (UN) peacekeeping funds.
Mendoza is regarded as an expert in fraud audit investigations in government transactions. She resigned from the COA in 2005 and had worked with the Asian Development Bank before appearing in the congressional probes.


One of her past investigation led to the conviction of ex-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zacaria Candao for malversation of government funds worth P21 million. Mendoza is a reserve officer in military, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. She also finished a master's degree in national security at the National Defense College in 2003. 
(http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/04/05/11/heidi-mendoza-new-coa-commissioner)

 

Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan is a lawyer and CPA

Ms. Tan held position of  finance undersecretary for revenue operations from 2003 to 2005. She is a director at the Asia United Bank, and at the Rural Bank of Angeles City.

A former UP law professor, Tan worked for the Kyrgyz Republic from 2008 to 2009, for the Canadian International Development Agency from 2007 to 2008, and the KPMG Peat Marwick Main and Company in New York.

She used to be an associate at the Sycip Salazar Feliciano and Hernandez and at the Tan and Venturanza Law Offices.

In 2002 to 2003 she was a member of the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

 
 
Statement by Ricky Carandang, head of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office:

Asked what made Tan more qualified than Mendoza to head COA, Carandang said aside from being a lawyer, Tan is also a certified public accountant.

“She fits the bill and she’s already had a government experience," he said.

He said the President wants to have a mix of people who, first of all, were in sync with his administration’s vision for good governance and had a mix of administrative, operational and investigative skills.

“Both of these two have (these qualities) so we think that they are highly qualified and they’ll make a very good team at the helm of COA," Carandang said.

He said Aquino considered Mendoza for COA chairman post “but we wanted a balance of people who had proven administrative and operational experience which Grace Tan has and of course the investigative abilities and the proven anti-corruption record of Heidi Mendoza. So all of those factors when into the mix."

Tan, prior to her appointment as COA chairman, was a tax consultant and legal adviser.

She is also an independent director of the Asia United Bank and Rural Bank of Angeles.

She was a Finance undersecretary handling the revenue operations group from May 2003 to February 2005.

She also served as a commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government from October 2002 to May 2003.

He said the President expects Tan and Mendoza to carry out the duties of COA in the proper manner and “we believe they have qualifications to serve their posts."

Anti-corruption

Carandang believed that Mendoza’s appointment to COA will boost the administration’s drive against corruption.

“I think Ms Mendoza, as we’ve seen, has proven that she is very serious about anti- corruption and we believe that she will continue the efforts for good governance," he said.

Asked if Mendoza could still testify in congressional hearings with regards to the plea bargaining agreement with former military comptroller Maj. Gen, Carlos Garcia, Carandang said he is not sure.

Mendoza had followed the money trail of transactions by former military comptroller Carlos Garcia, who is facing a P303-million plunder suit at the Sandiganbayan.

She resigned from her job at the Asian Development Bank to prepare for her testimony against Garcia.

She appeared at several congressional hearings on the alleged corruption in the military.

Mendoza also hogged the headlines when she accused his former colleagues in the Commission on Audit of being “politicized."

“We have to ask the lawyers whether she would be able to or not. I don’t know if there are anymore hearings anyway in the Senate. We’ll have to ask for an opinion on that from the lawyers," he said.

Mendoza was a career officer at the COA. Her curriculum vitae stated that she started as an auditing aide III with the performance audit office of COA in 1984.

“She rose from the ranks due to her consistent dedication to duty even at the risk of her own life. In 2002, she worked for the issuance of a cease and desist order which saved the government from at least P188 million worth of fraudulent transactions and eventual filing of a criminal case and the defeat of a politician during an elections," the document stated.

“She also headed the Garcia plunder case financial investigation in 2004," it further stated.

At a forum in San Juan City in February this year, Mendoza said COA needs more “independence" so that it can better perform its role of looking into books of accounts of various government agencies.

“I look towards that day na ang ipagtatanggol na budget ng COA ay hindi politicized (when COA will defend a budget that is not politicized)," she said
.VVP, GMA News

ANOTHER VIEW
 

Returning hero or villain?

EDITORIAL IN DAILY TRIBUNE

04/07/2011

Heidi Mendoza, the military corruption whistle-blower, is back at the Commission on Audit, not just as a CoA auditor, but as commissioner, although she did say that she had her eye on the CoA chairmanship, which she failed to get.

But apparently, her return to CoA, as a high ranking official, is not that welcomed by CoA people, as they reportedly feel that she had cast doubts on the integrity of the CoA and in the process, caused destruction to the institution, as well as her having given a blanket condemnation of the employees and officers of that agency she had called corrupt.

Every move she makes, every mistake she commits, every action or inaction in whatever her duties are, will definitely be watched by those in the CoA who feel they have been maligned, because Heidi did not just testify on the audit report she made on the military but also hit out at the CoA and pointing the finger at its officials and officers as either having covered up the past misdeeds, or ordered her to go slow, or their generally toeing the Malacaņang line.

That’s just one problem she faces upon her return to the agency, although Heidi claimed that the CoA people welcome her return.

Another problem for Heidi, along with the new chairman, would be whether they will truly be independent officials, as they are Noynoy Aquino’s appointees, in that they, as the high officials of CoA, would also dare bare whatever monkey business exists under the Aquino administration and its executive offices, including the Office of the President, because as sure as the sun shines, there will always be some irregularities committed which will be found, but about which the CoA usually doesn’t bare publicly.

And Heidi is pretty vulnerable to such attacks and criticisms, given the fact that even as she blew the whistle on the military corruption, and even as the media made her out to be such a heroine and a credible whistle-blower, a recent survey showed that the respondents didn’t find her that credible, with her obtaining only a paltry minority of some 22 percent, or not even a quarter of the respondents seeing Heidi as a credible witness.

Apparently, the respondents, claimed by the survey firm to represent the Filipino people, have an entirely different view from that which the media outfits portray as “good” versus “evil” or “credible” or “not credible.”

It looks like the electronic media are no longer that influential in shaping the public’s mind or the reflection of the “pulse of the people.” Still, many of the Yellow media have lost considerable credibility when it comes to news and public affairs, as the respondents don’t appear to agree with media’s portrayal of Heidi as a heroine. Nor, for that matter, do the survey respondents agree with the Yellow media and the Noynoy’s House members’ claim that the people voted overwhelmingly to have the Ombudsman impeached, since a slim majority — and a very slim one at that, given the +/-3 percent error margins — agreed.

It may even be worse for Heidi, as she might even be seen by the general public as having blown the whistle just to get back at her co-workers in CoA, and get, as a reward from Malacaņang, the high CoA post as commissioner.

Truth is, it was fairly easy for Heidi to turn whistle-blower under a new presidency and administration, especially since today’s presidency and administration are so focused on their politics of hate and vengeance. Anything that was said to have been hidden and unearthed against the previous administration is always music to the ears of the current Malacaņang tenant.

But will whistles be blown by the Noynoy appointees at the CoA and elsewhere where Noynoy’s appointees are now in power and positions, and all in the name of his claimed daang matuwid which seems to have taken the same crooked path?

Some things never change. Besides, those who do not toe the Palace line, can always be fired by Noynoy, as this is now his claim, which ensures definitively, that independence of these constitutional bodies can never be attained under such a system.

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HEADLINES

 

Malacañang is studying whether or not to pursue the administrative cases filed before it against Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Mark Jalandoni following his resignation last week.

Bishop hails Heidi Mendoza's appointment to COA

Ombudsman claims credit for money from sale of Ligots' US house

Baguio postmaster charged for malversation

Sandiganbayan freezes Ligots' assets

Sandiganbayan convictS former National Electrification Administration deputy administrator on graft and malversation charges for loss of government funds amounting to P85 million 11 years ago

Philippine Tax Agency Files Tax Evasion Complaint Vs Congressman Arroyo

Palace: Aquino gov't not targeting Arroyos -

WWII veterans dismayed over corruption in military

First ever: US delivers $132K from Ligot house sale

Church leaders, LGUs to sign covenant for good governance

COA employees express support for new chief

Sans Truth Commission, gov't still investigating anomalies

Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon faces complaint

Infanta Mayor insists there's no "jueteng" in her town

BIR files tax evasion charges against Rep. Mikey Arroyo and wife

Palace backs criminal charges vs Arroyo ally

DoJ gives Ligot couple 10 days to answer tax rap

Ombudsman orderS preventive suspension of revenue officer and customs operations officer, both of whom failed lifestyle checks and failed to report properties in their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth

Prosecutors nix reopening Soriquez's graft trial

Ex-PH envoy wants arrest warrant deferred

Pichay disputes corruption allegations

Mendoza's COA appointment praised

Why Tan is COA chief only until 2015

Deputy ombudsman told: Don't be a Qaddafi

Commission on Elections Chairman denies trying to bribe or blackmail Senator or sending anyone to talk to senator in his behalf

HOW TO SUPPORT CORRUPTION >>> Never speak of it
3monos.jpg
Don't listen to anything about it Ignore it

Ombudsman acts on charges vs BSP execs

LTO executives oppose reversion to manual transactions

Merci trial could begin late next month

"The Firm" may offer its services to help prosecute Ombud

Aquino appoints Pulido-Tan, Mendoza as chairman/commissioner of COA

Nine Customs officials suspended

Police, NBI may force deputy ombudsman to vacate post, says senator

Three town councilors accuse high officials of municipal government of Infanta, Quezon, of maintaining jueteng operations under guise of government-sanctioned small town lottery

5 cops in ransom scandal hauled to Manila jail

Ombudsman, Garcia buck OSG motion for inhibition

Deputy Ombudsman for Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices vows to fight President Aquino's order to dismiss him even if he reaches Supreme Court.

COA colleagues to welcome back Mendoza (video in Tagalog)

Rallyists to Merci: "OMG," Oust Merceditas Gutierrez

Deputy Ombudsman: I'll do everything vs dismissal order

Nine Customs officials suspended

Dozens of veteran and young lawyers volunteering to join House of Representatives legal team that will prosecute the Ombudsman case

Gutierrez deputy: My conscience is clean

Comelec chief denies "bribing" senator

Army cries foul on corruption coverages

Department of Justice affirms charges filed against Bureau of Immigration officer alleged to have facilitated departure of seven passengers supposed to work abroad using only tourist travel documents

DoJ files charges vs lady immigration officer over human trafficking

Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group files criminal case against three personnel who allegedly extorted P50,000 from TV personality

SENATOR: "Let courts decide firing of Gutierrez's deputy

Senate Minority Leader accuses Elections Chairman of trying to "bribe and blackmail" him in exchange for his confirmation in powerful Commission on Appointments

Aquino appoints new Comelec, Civil Service commissioners

De Lima to Palace: Deal with Ombudsman defiance severely

JUSTICE Secretary calls for "decisive action" against the Office of the Ombudsman for defying Malacanang's order dismissing Deputy Ombudsman But a source told the Manila Standard that more heads would roll at the Office of the Ombudsman.

8 cops cleared of 1992 "ghost" purchases

BOHOL: Vice Governor Lim stands by her "reform" policies

Members of the Cagayan de Oro media undergo one-day anti-corruption workshop sponsored by National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

Palace: Deputy Ombudsman accorded due process

Post of Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III will be declared vacant as soon as decision of Office of President ordering his removal becomes final and executory

Country's three biggest business groups support Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas decision to close Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgage Bank for "mismanagement."

IMPEACHEMENT PROSECUTION TEAM has congressional break to firm up case, with weekly meetings having started

Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice opposes moves to have him disqualified from plunder case of former military comptroller Carlos Garcia, saying his son, a government lawyer, has never appeared before his division or filed any motion before it.

Senators caution Ombudsman against defying President's order to dismiss Deputy Ombudsman for inaction on case of former police officer, saying President has power to "hire and fire."

President warns against foes of "reform agenda"

Government workers reminded of April 30 SALN deadline

Former RP national treasurer receives prestigious award for women leaders

Purisima expresses support for new GSIS directors facing arrest

Lawyer: "Ombudsman's defiance may lead to impeachment"

Garcia lawyer asked to comment on OSG move to disqualify presiding justice

UN team says Aquino administration creating a conducive environment for development...But there still remain impediments such as corruption.

Ex-Misamis Oriental mayor convicted of 2004 graft

Court of Appeals sets aside order earlier issued by Ombudsman placing one of so-called euro generals under preventive suspension due to controversial Russian trip in 2008.

Lacson mocked justice system: DOJ chief

Police recover stolen vehicle of COA chief

 
 

 
IntegriViews
OPINION

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The choice of Maria Gracia Pulido Tan, a UP Lawyer/CPA as chairman and whistleblower Heidi Mendoza as commissioner of the Commission on Audit (COA) is most welcome. It is good that an outsider with a fresh outlook was appointed chairman. With the knowledgeable anti graft crusader Heidi Mendoza as her associate, the two can finally rid COA of corrupt officials and practices. One practice that the two new COA officials must look into is the appointment of wives, sons and daughters or relatives of COA auditors to high paying positions in the offices they audit. The COA auditor is the first line of defense against corruption as shown by the military conversion cases, it can only happen with the cooperation of the auditor. -- Ernesto M. Maceda in The Philippine Star

The problem is not that government doesn't want to do things for the people, it is that government doesn't want to do things with the people. If the people figure at all in the equation, it is only as spectators. It is only as audience. It is not as participants, active or complicit. It is not as players, foreground or background. Which is a pity. Because they are the ones that ultimately spell the difference in whether or not government can truly push back corruption or not. In other countries, what would make Gutierrez's defiance completely unthinkable is not just the weight of law, it is the weight of public opinion. At the very least, that means the weight of culture, which is the values and judgments of society in codified form, permeating daily life and affecting or dictating the way people think and act. Far more than law, that is what inhibits people from committing atrocity, that is what compels people to commit suicide when they are deemed to have done so, it is what makes people bury their heads in shame when they are found out. That is what precludes a scale of defiance or pakapalan, such as Gutierrez shows, from even being contemplated. -- Conrado de Quiros in Philippine Daily Inquirer

Public funds being misappropriated for Terminal 3

Senators foresaw likely abuse by Ombudsman

What must P-Noy do? My friend suggests the following: First, remove the ombudsman (and replace her with an effective one) to strike fear in the hearts of the corrupt, and reclaim major artillery in the fight versus corruption. Second, appoint a new Commission on Audit chairman with the energy, will and savvy to use this institution against corruption. Third, ensure that changes being introduced in the budget process, particularly in its execution, will mobilize activist groups around the monitoring and oversight (and exposure of corruption) of public spending. Fourth, conduct a thorough purge of corruption in the agencies of government most notorious for it. This includes prompt removal of any Aquino appointee who might be proven guilty of corruption, which would be a most powerful signal to all that this government is indeed serious about corruption. And fifth, organize a strategic management and policy unit that will help the President on the preventive approaches for eliminating corruption via policy, organizational and process reforms. This is quite apart from and would complement the punitive function that the Office of the Ombudsman fulfills. With these, P-Noy can perhaps truly be the clean-up President that he promised to be. -- Cielito Habito in Philippine Daily Inquirer

Respected economist Bernardo Villegas said that President Aquino was doing very, very poorly in attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs). That's true. Speaking at the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Angeles City, Villegas pointed out that the Philippines in 2010 totalled only $1.8 billion in FDIs compared to $10 billion for Indonesia and $7 billion for Vietnam. In a list of 10 Asian investment areas, the Philippines came out 9th. Prominent UP Economics Professor Benjamin Diokno also pointed out that all FDIs of our Asian neighbors increased while the Philippines decreased. He analyzed that the main disincentive of foreign investors is still the continuing corruption in the country as shown by the recent PERC survey...The President's anti-corruption drive is snagged with the Truth Commission in limbo, the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan uncooperative and carryover of GMA type corrupt practices still on the scene. And the President's excuse for his lackluster performance and declining ratings - the media is focusing only on the bad news. If he truly believes that, it is time for him to start firing his entire Palace communications group. Their Cabinet titles have gone to their heads, their comments too cocky. -- Ernesto M. Maceda in The Philippine Star

The Office of the Ombudsman is a cannibalit preys on its own kind. Its victims are government officials and employees accused of corruption. Mendoza was fired from the police service for extortion. It was a case of an extortionist being fleeced by another extortionist. Extorting from government officials and employees facing corruption charges is common at the Office of the Ombudsman. For sure, former Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia coughed up millions of pesos of money he stole from the Armed Forces so the Office of the Ombudsman would downgrade his case from plunder to plain corruption. A thief who robs another thief of his loot is as disgusting as a cannibal who devours human flesh. -- Ramon Tulfo in Philippine Daily Inquirer

Do you view the Armed Forces of the Philippines as the "most corrupt" government agency? (Click to read citizens' opinions in The Philippine Star)

Precisely because there are ways by which the State can rid itself of an inept or a corrupt deputy ombudsman, there is no reason to invoke the doctrine of residual powers to justify the President's attempt to unseat a deputy ombudsman. The doctrine applies only when there is need for the exercise of a power that has not been entrusted by the constitution or the laws to any specific branch of government. In this case, there are offices of government that can deal with an unworthy deputy ombudsman. I am not by any means canonizing the ombudsman, her deputies and their investigators. I have heard reports from sources I have no reason to doubt that not everything has been above board in that office. In fact, I have had personal experience in the past of the unholy shadows that lurk along the corridors of the Office of the Ombudsman. But that is another thing - and it does not detract from my conviction that the President is bereft of authority to fire a deputy ombudsman! -- Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino in Manila Standard

A courageous media colleague...sizes up the Ombudsman in very contemptuous way, saying Ombudsman people have been feasting on cases involving wealthy respondents and alleging that many cases there have gone haywire on purpose. The Ombudsman is supposed to be the front line agency against corruption but it has not lived up to its mandate. Over the years, even after its disciplinary and punitive powers have been enlarged, there was nothing the agency can be proud of. So that beyond all the rhetoric of every administration against thievery in government and promises to put the scalawags into the pen using the Ombudsman's net, all the anti-corruption campaigns have simmered down, sadly, into just what they are: worthless rhetoric. -- ROSULO in Catanduanes Tribune

We cannot achieve a clean government if those who are tasked to fight corruption are not doing their job or are protecting the perpetrators of corruption. There is no other better time to fix the system but now. If we want an honest government, we must start getting rid of officials who do not serve the public interest. It has been the desire and vision of Pres. Noynoy Aquino to stop the rampant corruption in our land. With the impeachment of Gutierrez, the President can now proceed with his plans and programs for a clean and honest government - and it won't be too long when the kind of progressive Philippines that we've been dreaming of will become a reality. -- Alexander Lim in The Bohol Standard

A failure to convict Gutierrez even with strong evidence to impeach her could unleash a tsunami of voter backlash against 12 senators -- whose terms end in 2013 -- who would most likely be running for re-election. They are: Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Gregorio Honasan, Ping Lacson, Loren Legarda, Kiko Pangilinan, Antonio Trillanes IV, Manny Villar, and Juan Miguel Zubiri. In the final analysis, the people want the senator-judges to vote impartially, fairly, and justly solely on the evidence presented to them. Anything short of that would not be acceptable in the "court of public opinion." -- Editorial in Zamboanga Today

THERE are 21 people who may be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of any of the following: culpable violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of public trust. These are the President, the Vice-President, Members of the Supreme Court, the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission, the Chairman of the Commission on Elections, the Chairman of the Commission on Audit and the Ombudsman. The rest of us can be fired because the boss does not like us...No one seriously doubts that the Philippines is highly corrupt. Nor do we doubt that the resources designed to bring the allegedly corrupt to justice are failing in their duty. Special prosecutor Wendell Sulit's breathtaking pronouncement that 'the case against (General) Garcia is not strong' is, for me, a prima facie case for her dismissal. But there are Wendell Sulits up and down the land. They lurk in Fiscals' offices where their excessive passivity allows influential or seemingly influential wrongdoers to go scot-free. Merci will receive a fair hearing from the Senators who will respect the presumption of innocence. But for the rest of us who are tired and angry about the level of corruption and who have heard the discussions in the House of Representatives cannot but believe that Merci will have an uphill battle in the Senate. The Prosecution Panel will have prepared well but we can expect surprises from the Defense, which has not, so far, been particularly articulate in the national conversation about the Ombudsman's performance. But whatever happens, I believe the seriousness with which Senators are preparing for their responsibilities reflects well on our democratic processes. Permissum Justicia increbresco! (Let Justice prevail!) -- Neil Honeyman in Sun.Star Bacolod

Unable to bulldoze Gutierrez to step down through all sorts of pressures, including blackening her name in its publicity campaign in the media in an attempt to influence the Senate in its impeachment trial, the administration has now opened a new front to attack not only Gutierrez but also the Office of the Ombudsman itself. In what appears to be reckless exercise of presidential power, the President sacked Gonzalez for his action or inaction on the Mendoza hostage case. The dismissal order pushed Malacañang to the edge of a potential constitutional confrontation over the issue of the President's powers relative to a constitutionally protected organ, such as the Office of the Ombudsman...The President may get rid of Gonzalez, but he is not central to the Gutierrez impeachment case. Mr. Aquino is wasting political resources on the Gonzalez case. The dismissal seeks to blame Gonzalez for the hostage fiasco. The move against Gonzalez cannot wash the hands of the President of responsibility for the bungled rescue. It is a scapegoating exercise. The decision to reintroduce that failed hostage crisis nightmare in the public agenda in the run-up to the Senate trial is a self-destructive public opinion strategy. -- Amando Doronila in Philippine Daily Inquirer

Impunity is a hard habit to break. When the Office of the President dismissed Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III from government service last Friday, for "gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct constituting betrayal of public trust," the Office of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez responded immediately with open defiance ...years of misusing the awesome powers of the Ombudsman to prosecute lowly officials and protect the higher-ups have taken their toll on the Ombudsman and her lawyers. Last Friday's knee-jerk reaction tells us the instinct to clear the high and mighty is already second nature. -- Editorial in Inquirer

While many consider the testimonials of Rabusa and former state auditor Heidi Mendoza as a revolutionary step towards a corrupt-free government, the same revelations also caused Filipinos to be disheartened over government officials, especially those in the AFP, Pulse Asia survey said...Although it can be disappointing at times, news that denote negative issues challenges the people to not just sit, watch or be passive, but also to get involved and let their government know that they are willing to extend help, in whatever way they can, for a better country. It is encouraging that more people are speaking out against those who have used their public position for their own benefit. The Filipinos have come a long way from their meek ways in the past to being the outspoken citizens that they are now. They have proven it not once - but many times and it is never to late to prove it again if it means a better Philippines for the generations to come. -- Editorial in Asian Journal

It seems that even the Aquino administration can't eliminate corruption in the government and may even becomes more horrifying ill than the previous Arroyo administration despite P-Noy's rallying slogan after his inauguration: "Tapos na ang maliligayang araw ng masasamang opisyales sa gobyerno". I'm afraid that what P-Noy promised us is merely on paper as results of the latest survey by Pulse Asia show that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is the most corrupt government agency in the eyes of the public. The Philippine National Police ranked second to the AFP among the agencies considered the most corrupt. During the Arroyo administration, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH ) was on topped and long considered the flagship of corruption of the previous leadership. Now the DPWH came in third. In fourth place was the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), followed by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Commission on Audit (COA) and Bureau of Customs. Yes, P-Noy maybe made good his promise that his priority is to run after corrupt public officials, but he didn't tell us that he will merely re-shuffled corrupt government agencies and let the corrupt officials remained in office and corruption continues to flourish. Just like changing collar of a dog and the same dog continuously biting us. -- Loreto D. Tinitigan in Mindanao Times

Filipinos become drug mules by choice. They are involved in the process of figuring out how to surreptitiously transport illegal drugs to another country either by taking advantage of opportunities or overcoming pitfalls which all require the exercise of ingenuity. If this is the case, the government's intense readiness to intercede for our drug mules presents a central flaw--that is, the weakening of our determination to take responsibility for the consequences of our own actions, as individuals as well as a nation. I agree with the anti-crime crusader Teresita Ang-Sees conclusion that the three Filipinos on death row in China were paid couriers who knew that they were smuggling illegal drugs. Cognizant of this knowledge, they decided to gamble their lives and lost. -- Efren Padilla in GMANews Online

It is unkind and unjust how a badly timed "survey" intended to measure the sentiment or opinion of some 1,000 to 3,000 +/- persons about government offices and agencies, now become the justification that would crucify our Armed Forces for their past sins. Of course the respondents would have a skewed or biased opinion because the poll took place in the middle of a controversy and an investigation of the AFP that has been building up for months or years! That may not be the intention of the pollsters or survey agency but the same would happen if you asked the question "Is it hot or is it cold?" on the hottest week of summer! In spite of public perception, which is erroneous both in facts and chronology, I believe that no less than the Commander-In-Chief should spend time with the troops and their dependents to reassure them of his, and the nation's trust and appreciation. The Commander-In-Chief should correct the publics misimpression that the ongoing Senate investigation on AFP corruption is something that dates back to some five or six years ago, not something thats happening today. -- Cito Beltran in The Philippine Star

We are waking to the realization that the military, police and even private security institutions harbor perhaps the largest criminal network unwittingly funded by taxpayers. We are effectively bankrolling the atrocities they inflict, the protection they provide criminals, and the corruption they nurture. Where they appropriate taxpayer's money into their private coffers, they are nothing but crooks. In the order of crooks, they are crooks of the worst kind, stealing not just from the public where economies of scale dilute consequences, but from their subordinates, violating a code of solidarity alternately referred to as loyalty or brotherhood. Increasing from a previous 8%, the recently polled 49% corruption statistic still does not quite tell of corruption as eloquently as when we delve into doublespeak. The subculture's lexicon reveals how an institution deodorizes itself and institutionalizes criminality. The most often used terminology is the word "conversion". In the financial or mathematical sense conversion involves equal values expressed under different units of measure. In the context of securities, conversion involves the exchange of convertible security. In the AFP's criminal underworld conversion is when legitimate appropriations are converted to an unlawful use. The correct technical word is "malversation". The non-technical word is "stealing". Following recent revelations, criminal malversation was institutionalized through the Provisions for Command-Directed Activities (PCDA) reserved for the AFP Chief of Staff and his generals The PCDA identifies criminality's provenance. It indicates systematic plunder where star-rank officers wantonly scrape from other budgetary units to sustain prioritized funds in the PCDA. -- Dean de la Paz in GMANews Online

Do you agree that Ombudsman Merci Gutierrez's impeachment will boost the fight against corruption, just as the President says? (Click here to read citizen opinions)

It will take more than reassurances from AFP officers that they have plugged opportunities for corruption to improve the public image of the military. That image makeover will take time, with people looking out for evidence of lavish lifestyles not just among AFP officers but also among their wives and children. The public will compare these lifestyles with the welfare of ordinary soldiers. Transparency in budget and procurement processes in the AFP will also help. Several units have started posting supply requisitions and expenditures on their websites. Public perceptions change. In the case of the AFP, it must make sure an improvement in its public image will arise from genuine reform efforts and not from the involvement of another agency in a corruption scandal. -- Editorial in The Philippine Star

FINANCIAL TIMES  -  April 4 2011 extract

Philippines steps up anti-corruption drive

The Philippine government will sharply step up convictions of tax evaders, corrupt officials and other criminals in order to bolster the country’s finances and restore public faith in often-corrupt institutions...Benigno Aquino III said that, on his instruction, the internal revenue and customs bureaux were filing a case a week to send a message that “we are going after tax evaders”.

 ...“As soon as we get convictions and people really wind up in jail, we think we will experience a J-curve in terms of tax efficiency,” he said. Currently, only 3m-4m Filipinos in a population of 94m regularly pay income taxes, according to his spokesman...

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Political & Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd (PERC) survey of views on political, institutional and private sector corruption
 
Between November 2010 to February 2011PERC polled respondents on their views on political, institutional and private sector corruption. PERC covered 1,725 middle and senior expatriate business executives working in Asia, the US and Australia. The expatriates were asked to provide scores only for the country where they were working and their country of origin. Rating are on a scale of one to 10 -- with 10 being the worst

Cambodia (9.27 points).

Indonesia (9.25 points)

PHILIPPINES (8.9 points)

India (8.67),

Vietnam (8.30),

China (7.93) 

Thailand (7.55)

Asian average (6.08) (Excludes Australia & USA)

South Korea (5.90)

Malaysia (5.70),

Taiwan (5.65)

Macau (4.68)

USA (2.39) 

Japan (1.90)

Australia (1.39)

Hong Kong (1.10)

Singapore (0.37)

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Ehem hopes to bring people, in the end, to a commitment to live the way of Ehemplo --- critical of corruption, intent on integrity!
 
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