President Aquino hailed the Commission on Audit (COA) yesterday for becoming a
more powerful institution committed to fight graft and corruption in government.
In a speech before officials and employees on the agency’s 112th anniversary,
the President said erring government officials now fear state auditors.
Aquino said COA auditors no longer do their jobs with reservation as they are now “free,
brave, and fearless” in fulfilling their duties.
“Being the eyes of the bureaucracy you are no longer blindfolded to prevent you
from watching over wrongdoers, no one is gagging you to speak out against profligacy and no one is tying you up to stop you
from performing your mandate as keeper of the country’s coffers,” he said in Filipino.
The President led the awarding rites for the country’s top auditors as part of
its anniversary celebration. Two audit teams that discovered massive irregularities
in the loan program of the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig) in Tacloban City and Dagupan City were among those honored.
The Tacloban Pag-Ibig Audit Team disallowed ineligible Pag-Ibig loans amounting to P53.189
million following the discovery of bogus borrowers, while the Dagupan Pag-Ibig Audit Team unearthed irregularities in 978
developer-assisted housing loans totaling P484.73 million.
State Auditor Haydee Pasuelo was named as Outstanding COA Employee of the Year for her
efforts which led to the dismissal of two government officers for malversation of public funds totaling P1.25 million and
the discovery of audit disallowances in three government agencies totaling P97.84 million.
The President said that this was “true service, the fulfillment of our wish for
reform,” adding that the auditors are in the frontlines of the fight against graft and corruption.
The President also affirmed his
confidence in newly appointed COA chair Grace Tan and Commissioner Heidi Mendoza.
“If example and steadfastness were the gauge, it’s hard to equal the COA
leadership,” he said, adding that good work will be rewarded and he looks forward to having the COA work in partnership
with the next Ombudsman.
By BEN R. ROSARIO,
Manila Bulletin - April 12, 2011
Employees and incumbent
executives of the Commission on Audit have apparently buried the hatchet with two new Aquino appointees who will take over
the reins of the constitutional body.
Chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan and Commissioner Heidi Mendoza were warmly received by the CoA community when they heard
Mass at its main office in Quezon City.
COA officials and
employees have previously aired misgivings over the controversy-laden entry of the two fresh members of the commission.
The objection against
Pulido-Tan, who vowed transparency and openness as twin main policies she will push, was centered on her being an “outsider”.
The Philippine Government
Audit Service Employees Association (PHILGASEA) has withdrawn its objection against Tan but appealed to the president to "pick
among CoA officials” when he appoints new officials next time.
On the other hand,
Mendoza apologized to those who were hurt by pronouncements aired in the Senate hearings in connection with alleged corruption
in the Commission.
Mendoza, the whistleblower
in the AFP fund scam, was previously a state auditor who resigned in disgust over alleged refusal of her seniors to support
her findings on alleged anomalies in the handling of military funds.
Pulido-Tan and Mendoza
are set to formally start with their new jobs on Monday, with the former vowing to start work by meeting Commissioners Juanito
Espino Jr. and Mendoza to start discussing their plan of action.
auditors ang lumulutang na priority. Matagal na tinitingnan natin iyong napakadaming conflict sa area na ito,” said
Pulido Tan when asked what her priority concern would be.
she has gathered than a number of auditors have remained in their post for over the usual three year tour of duty.
Referring to graft
and malversation cases filed before the Sandiganbayan, Pulido-Tan said a mechanism for the review of audit recommendations
and follow up of their proposed action to government agencies will also form part of the priority.
The former finance
undersecretary stressed that while many graft charges are based on audit findings made by CoA, the filing of charges and implementation
of administration action is vested on the concerned agency.
ang CoA. Hindi siya ang naghahabla,” PUlido-Tan stressed. (CoA is just a witness. It is not its duty to file charges.)
Asked if she received
any “marching orders” from Aquino, the new CoA chief said she has yet to meet Aquino since the president surprised
her by announcing her appointment to the state audit agency.
a good thing we didn’t (meet). CoA does not take marching orders from anyone,” Pulido-Tan said as she stressed
that the agency is an independent constitutional body.
The Commission on Audit (COA) has a new chairperson in Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan.
takes the helm of COA chair, taking over from Reynaldo Villar.
her experience as a lawyer in the private sector and as an accountant, Tan is well-suited for the top COA post, said Malacaņang.
private lawyer by profession, Tan was not always enthralled by the prospect of serving in government. But when the late Presidential
Commission on Good Government tapped her to serve in the agency, she didn't think twice.
was very important to me that if I left my comfort zone, I wanted it to be with someone I admired and respected. I said yes,"
later served as Finance Undersecretary for Revenue Operations under the Arroyo administration.
was there not to have a career in government. I was needed at that time," Tan revealed.
Secretary (Isidro) Camacho resigned, she said she would also resign with him, but decided to stay on to help Undersecretary
Juanita Amatong who took over the post, before she eventually returned to private practice.
Tan said she intends to lead by example to ensure the agency remains above board.
you say 'graft buster', we always start with ourselves," Tan said on ANC's "The Rundown" on Friday.
head of the office, the buck stops with me. It's command responsibility. We have to police our own ranks so we can do the
job we have been called upon to do the best way we can and in the most efficient and effective manner."
claims of irregularities among some COA officials, Tan said she believes there are dedicated public servants. She said she
wants to get to know the commission's staff and will not hesitate to tap corrective measures if necessary.
subscribes to proper documentation, and rotating auditors to keep them from becoming overly familiar with the agency they're
Tan admitted it may not be easy to report discrepancies as there is still a need to balance this with the right to due process.
we going to be proactive in filing complaints? We have to look at that because we might be going beyond our mandate. On the
other hand, when there's a complaint, we can't just dismiss it. We have to identify and authenticate the report.
don't want to focus on it being a time of controversy for the COA, rather it's a time of coming out for the COA," she added.
Commission of three
Tan said she welcomes the chance to work with celebrated whistle-blower and now COA commissionerHeidi Mendoza.
added that Mendoza's own efforts at fighting corruption in government, by baring what she knows about alleged corruption in
the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Congressional hearings, has helped bring the commission's work to the forefront.
going to be a commission of three: Heidi, me and Commissioner Juanito Espino Jr.," Tan said.
not intimidated at all. I'm happy for her [that] people are taking notice. She brought the COA to the public consciousness,
the nature of its work, and what the public can do to help.
glad she's there. That's going to make my job easier at the COA. What's important for me is if we're getting the job done,"
COA closer to the people
will serve as COA chair until February 2, 2015.
her term, she hopes to bring the Commission closer to the public by tapping its media arm. She also wants to make Filipinos
realize that they have a stake in making government officials accountable.
COA was meant to give people a proper and full accounting of their money.
will strengthen the COA. We will bring it closer to the people. We will engage the people to help us carry out our constitutional
mandate," Tan said.
APPOINTMENT OF MS. HEIDI MENDOZA AS COA COMMISSIONER
In line with our theme
of “MAPping a Culture of Integrity” and our goal this year to address
Corruption, Criminality and Climate Change, we in the MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (MAP) highly commends the
appointment of Ms. Heidi Mendoza as Commissioner of the Commission on Audit
MAP commits to continue
helping Ms. Mendoza for her crusade against corruption which continues to be one of the biggest impediments to economic growth
and prosperity in the country, and it has been eroding the moral fiber of the nation.
Corruption in public
service is anti-poor and is blatantly opposed to the “Kung walang corrupt, walang
mahirap” battlecry of President Benigno C. Aquino III. The public money that went to private pockets of greedy
public officials and their families could have been used to fund programs for the poor on education, health care and housing.
We encourage Congress
to immediately enact the Freedom of Information Law which will give the access to information heretofore hidden from public
scrutiny, and the protection for truth-tellers and whistle-blowers.
We encourage the business
community, especially the members of MAP, to support the anti-corruption programs of Commissioner Mendoza whose involvement
in COA will certainly assist all of us in “MAPping a Culture of Integrity.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
"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.
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
videos of Heidi or mentioning her testimony or related to
her new post.
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...
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."
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.
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
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.
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."
believed that Mendoza’s appointment to COA will boost the administration’s drive against corruption.
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,"
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.
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,
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
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
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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