Palace stands by Heidi Mendoza, Cabinet men

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 05 2014 05:32 PM | Updated as of Mar 06 2014 01:32 AM

MANILA - Malacañang stands by the appointments of Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioner Heidi Mendoza and Cabinet members who have not been confirmed by the bicameral Commission on Appointments.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the Palace will continue to submit the names of appointees to Congress.

"We believe that these Cabinet members have been fulfilling their jobs, and they will continue to explain to the Commission on Appointments, if there’s a necessity to do so," he said.

The President's spokesman said Mendoza has done a good job as commissioner. This is despite questions raised by lawyers of of former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay against her during the CA hearing.

"She has done a good job together with Chairman Grace Tan. In fact, just to let you know—just to remind you—the Philippines won the Bright Spot award during the OGP Summit in London, where the citizens’ participatory audit was awarded the number one Bright Spot award. Also, while I was in Washington D.C., Chairman Grace Tan was also there. And Chairman Grace Tan spoke of citizens’ engagement in the auditing process, and that’s the citizens’ participatory audit, which is also being managed by both Chairman Grace Tan and Commissioner Heidi Mendoza," Lacierda said.

Lacierda, however, sidestepped questions on whether Mendoza's confirmation has been stymied by personal attacks by those she’s investigated.

She said Mendoza "has already spoken why she could not be confirmed."

"We will leave it with the comment made by Commissioner Heidi Mendoza as to the reasons why she could not be confirmed as Commissioner of COA," he said.

Mendoza on Tuesday appealed to members of the Commission on Appointments to confirm her appointment after being rejected time and again. This is after lawyers of the former Makati Mayor questioned Mendoza's role in the audit findings that led to a complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman against Mrs. Binay.

The complaint, which saw alleged overpricing of hospital equipment purchased by the city government in 2001, has been dismissed but was reportedly revived recently by the Ombudsman.

The lawyers who are opposing Mendoza’s appointment include Mariano Sarmiento, Sandra Marie Olaso-Coronel, and Felicitas Aquino-Arroyo, wife of former Senator Joker Arroyo.

Mendoza said she was merely doing her job and had nothing to do with the prosecution of the case.

"I am begging before this committee," Mendoza told the committee, admitting that she envied other officials who have breezed through the CA hearings and have won confirmation.

"Pabalik-balik po ako dito. Nanonood ng naco-confirm, at talaga pong ako ay inggit na inggit. Talaga pong nakakainggit, alam n’yo po iyon? Pero parati rin po akong nagbibigay sa sarili ko ng pagkakataon na alam ko po na darating ang panahon may mga malilinaw ang isipan at darating din po ang panahon na bubuksan ang katotohanan. Dahil hindi po ako nagsinungaling, hindi po ako nagnakaw, hindi rin po ako nakasuhan."

"Ang akin pong tanging kasalanan, nanindigan po ako na mag-file ng kaso sa isang may ambisyon na maging presidente,” she added, referring to the case against Mrs. Binay, wife of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Other appointees

Aside from Mendoza, other Aquino appointees who have not been confirmed by the CA are Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

Lacierda also downplayed criticism against Transportation and Communications Secretary Jun Abaya over delayed projects under his watch.