Former auditor-turned-witness breaks into tears on claims she 'smeared' COA's image

February 9, 2011 11:54 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Feb. 8 — Former Commission on Audit (COA) auditor-turned-witness Heidi Mendoza broke into tears at the continuation of the hearing by the committee on justice of the House of Representatives on Tuesday on the accusations made earlier by her colleagues that she is "besmirching" the image of the COA.

"Nag-audit po ako ng tapat. I love the COA as an institution… but I am standing firm on my accusation that there are leaders in the COA that render it difficult for every honest auditor to stand on their ground," said Mendoza.

The House justice committee is currently conducting inquiry into the plea bargaining deal entered into by the government and former AFP comptroller Carlos Garcia.

During the hearing, former COA chief Guillermo Carague denied he talked to Mendoza during his term.

Carague claimed he did not remember ever talking with Mendoza regarding supposedly anomalous transactions in the military.

"We did not even speak… That was years ago, but as far as I know, I don’t remember her ever coming to my office," he told the panel.

Carague added that he did not authorize Mendoza and her team to go further in her investigation on military funds.

A teary-eyed Mendoza said she was hurt by her former boss' denial.

"Para akong anak na sinabihan ng tatay na hindi siya pwedeng magsumbong. Hindi niya raw po ako kilala. Hindi raw po kami nagkausap," she said.

In a previous hearing, Mendoza said she worked on the case together with several prosecutors, including Special Prosecutor Joseph Capistrano.

She said she was commissioned to do some audit work in support of the investigation of the Office of the Ombudsman, which was then headed by Simeon Marcelo, on alleged corruption within the military involving the former military comptroller.

She said she started audit work as head of an 11-member team that worked on the soldiers’ pension fund, Balikatan fund, United Nations fund, and the AFP Modernization fund.

Mendoza, who resigned from COA in 2006, said that after Marcelo resigned, then COA chairman Guillermo Carague did not anymore ask her to write a report on her audit findings.

The former COA auditor said she was bothered by the plea bargain agreement because she believed there were strong pieces of evidence to pin down Garcia for corruption.

Garcia had pleaded guilty to a lesser offense of direct bribery and pleaded not guilty to plunder, a non-bailable offense.

The Sandiganbayan allowed Garcia to post bail of P60,000 on the basis of his plea bargain agreement with special prosecutors of the Office of the Ombudsman. (PNA)

scs/LGI

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