Aquino: Gov't needs more 'Heidis'


Posted at May 10 2011 01:36 PM | Updated as of May 11 2011 06:48 PM

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III on Tuesday honored the country's best auditors, including this year's Outstanding Commission on Audit (COA) Employee Awardee, for having discovered multimillion-peso anomalies.

In a speech before COA officials and employees, Aquino commended Iloilo state auditor Heidi Pasuelo for her work that resulted in the dismissal of 2 government officers for malversation of public funds totaling P1.25 million and for her significant audit disallowances in 3 government agencies of over P97 million.

The President cited Pasuelo along with her namesake Heidi Mendoza, the whistleblower on alleged corruption in the military and eventually named COA commissioners. Aquino said their honesty and dedication prevented scammers from stealing government money.

"Kilalanin niyo ang mga Heidi ng taong bayan. Hindi nagpapabaya. Heidi Pasuelo State Auditor 4 mula Iloilo City. Maliban sa pagharang sa 97.8 million pesos waldas sa 3 ahensya ng gobyerno, natuklasan niya mahigit 1 million pesos pa kinulimbat. Halos 100 million ang nailigtas ng matalas, matapat at wala sinisino na COA auditor," he said in a speech at the 112th anniversary rites of COA.

"Kung may 10 Heidi Asuelo, 100 Heidi Mendoza handa i-report, boss nya na ang taumbayan na ninanakawan kayo, wag kayo panlabuan ng mata pag may suhol. Ito ang tapat na serbisyo," he added.

The President also praised audit teams who discovered massive irregularities in the loan program of the Pag-IBIG Home Development Mutual Fund in Tacloban and Dagupan.

The Tacloban Pag-IBIG audit team disallowed ineligible loans amounting to over P53 million due to the discovery of bogus borrowers. The findings led to recent hearings in Congress.

The Dagupan Pag-IBIG audit team also unearthed irregularities in 978 developer-assisted housing loans totaling some P484 million.

The President praised the teams for completing the job despite encountering threats and misrepresentations by developers and borrowers.

Closer ties between Ombudsman, COA

Aquino said closer ties between the Office of the Ombudsman and COA would allow the country to save billions of pesos that could have otherwise been lost to corruption.

He said this would allow both agencies to work together and expose corruption in different agencies.

“I hope that this would allow the country to focus on issues that needs to be resolved, without having to resort to cover-ups and resolutions that are not helpful to the people,” he said.

Aquino has been vocal about his dismay over the plea bargain deal that the Office of the Ombudsman entered into with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.

This deal, which allows Garcia to return P135 million to the government in exchange for a lesser offense than plunder, was approved by the Sandiganbayan on Monday.

In a 22-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Teresita V. Diaz-Baldos, the 2nd Division of the anti-graft court said Garcia complied with all the conditions required in the plea bargain arrangement.

Aquino is anchoring his hopes on the new officials of COA, led by Chairman Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan and Commissioner Heidi Mendoza. The latter was instrumental in exposing the supposedly anomalous plea bargain deal.

“The COA is at the forefront of change,” Aquino said. “When one hears of COA’s name, [the enemy] already cowers in fear.”