MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 2) - President Aquino has appointed Heidi Mendoza as one of the commissioners of the Commission on Audit (COA) for a term expiring on February 2, 2018, replacing Evelyn R. San Buenaventura.
Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan is appointed as COA chair for a term expiring on February 2, 2015, replacing Reynaldo A. Villar.
Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ricky Carandang said Grace Tan was undersecretary of Finance for revenue operations until 2005.
“She’s a lawyer. She has accounting experience. She fits the bill. She also has government experience also. Medyo narrow lang ang learning curve niya,” Carandang said of Tan.
The website of Tan Venturanza Velez law firm said Tan served as Finance Undersecretary for Revenue Operations until February 15, 2005. She is a consultant for the Ministry of Finance of the People's Republic of China's Tax Policy and Administration project under the auspices of the Asian Development Bank.
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.
“I think Ms. Mendoza as we have seen has proven that she is very serious about anti corruption. We believe that [in] COA, she will continue the efforts for good governance,” Carandang said.
Carandang said Mendoza was also considered as chair of COA.
“I think she was considered also for chair. 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 went to the mix,” he said.
Asked if there was a technicality that disqualified Mendoza from being named COA chair, Carandang said:
“Wala namang technicality. We want to have a mix of people who are first of all in synch with our vision for good governance. We also wanted people who have a mix of skills: administrative, operational and also investigative, which both of these two have. We think both are highly qualified and they would make a very good team at the helm of COA.”
Carandang said he is not aware if former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo will be given any position. Romulo had previously said he is interested to become COA chair.
The Palace secretary said he is not sure if Mendoza can appear in congressional hearings now that she is a COA commissioner. He said the opinion of lawyers should be asked. “I don’t know if there any more hearings anyway,” Carandang said.
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. With a report from ANC