MANILA, Philippines -- Priests and seminarians of the Society of Jesus on Saturday held a discussion on fighting corruption in their own churches.
Their surprise guest was Heidi Mendoza, the former state auditor who testified to massive corruption in the Armed Forces.
Mendoza gave a personal testimony about the price of telling the truth.
After the speech, participants swarmed around to take her picture and her autograph.
Mendoza conceded that this attention is now part of her new life. And while it takes some getting used to, she is grateful for the support of ordinary citizens.
“’Pag lumabas kami para kumain, ayaw kaming pagbayarin ng restaurant,” she said.
Mendoza tries to find reasons to laugh in the midst of her predicament. But she admitted that what she and her family are facing now is no laughing matter.
“I have to be away from my family. Kung minsan, pag nakikita ako ng anak kong umiiyak sa TV, nae-emotionally burdened 'yung bata," she said.
But there is a reason she still feels safe.
“I entered a plea bargain with the Lord... Sabi ko, Lord, I'm willing to be everything that you want, bring me everywhere that you want me to go, but take care of my children and my husband,” said Mendoza.
She wants to make it clear that while she is exposing the anomalies at the higher ranks of the military, she is not calling for another uprising.
Instead, Mendoza calls on the nation's soldiers to stay calm but remain vigilant from now on.
“Hindi n'yo kailangan ng panibagong pag-aalsa, kasi may pamahalaan kayo ngayon na nakikinig at bukas sa inyong mga hinaing,” she said.