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News, plans and information about the new Chairperson and new Commissioner that assumed office at the Commission on Audit (COA) on April 12, 2011

COA IntegriNews

Maria Gracia Pulido Tan new Chair of Commission on Audit
Heidi Mendoza new COA commissioner


P-Noy lauds stronger  COA
By Michael Punongbayan The Philippine Star - May 11, 2011

President Aquino hailed the Commission on Audit (COA) yesterday for becoming a more powerful institution committed to fight graft and corruption in government.

In a speech before officials and employees on the agency’s 112th anniversary, the President said erring government officials now fear state auditors.

Aquino said COA auditors no longer do their jobs with reservation as they are now “free, brave, and fearless” in fulfilling their duties.

“Being the eyes of the bureaucracy you are no longer blindfolded to prevent you from watching over wrongdoers, no one is gagging you to speak out against profligacy and no one is tying you up to stop you from performing your mandate as keeper of the country’s coffers,” he said in Filipino. 

The President led the awarding rites for the country’s top auditors as part of its anniversary celebration. Two audit teams that discovered massive irregularities in the loan program of the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig) in Tacloban City and Dagupan City were among those honored.

The Tacloban Pag-Ibig Audit Team disallowed ineligible Pag-Ibig loans amounting to P53.189 million following the discovery of bogus borrowers, while the Dagupan Pag-Ibig Audit Team unearthed irregularities in 978 developer-assisted housing loans totaling P484.73 million.

State Auditor Haydee Pasuelo was named as Outstanding COA Employee of the Year for her efforts which led to the dismissal of two government officers for malversation of public funds totaling P1.25 million and the discovery of audit disallowances in three government agencies totaling P97.84 million.

The President said that this was “true service, the fulfillment of our wish for reform,” adding that the auditors are in the frontlines of the fight against graft and corruption.

“If example and steadfastness were the gauge, it’s hard to equal the COA leadership,” he said, adding that good work will be rewarded and he looks forward to having the COA work in partnership with the next Ombudsman.

New CoA officials receive warm welcome

By BEN R. ROSARIO, Manila Bulletin - April 12, 2011

Employees and incumbent executives of the Commission on Audit have apparently buried the hatchet with two new Aquino appointees who will take over the reins of the constitutional body.

Newly appointed Chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan and Commissioner Heidi Mendoza were warmly received by the CoA community when they heard Mass at its main office in Quezon City.

COA officials and employees have previously aired misgivings over the controversy-laden entry of the two fresh members of the commission.

The objection against Pulido-Tan, who vowed transparency and openness as twin main policies she will push, was centered on her being an “outsider”.

The Philippine Government Audit Service Employees Association (PHILGASEA) has withdrawn its objection against Tan but appealed to the president to "pick among CoA officials” when he appoints new officials next time.

On the other hand, Mendoza apologized to those who were hurt by pronouncements aired in the Senate hearings in connection with alleged corruption in the Commission.

Mendoza, the whistleblower in the AFP fund scam, was previously a state auditor who resigned in disgust over alleged refusal of her seniors to support her findings on alleged anomalies in the handling of military funds.

Pulido-Tan and Mendoza are set to formally start with their new jobs on Monday, with the former vowing to start work by meeting Commissioners Juanito Espino Jr. and Mendoza to start discussing their plan of action.

“Overstaying auditors ang lumulutang na priority. Matagal na tinitingnan natin iyong napakadaming conflict sa area na ito,” said Pulido Tan when asked what her priority concern would be.

Pulido-Tan said she has gathered than a number of auditors have remained in their post for over the usual three year tour of duty.

Referring to graft and malversation cases filed before the Sandiganbayan, Pulido-Tan said a mechanism for the review of audit recommendations and follow up of their proposed action to government agencies will also form part of the priority.

The former finance undersecretary stressed that while many graft charges are based on audit findings made by CoA, the filing of charges and implementation of administration action is vested on the concerned agency.

“Testigo lamang ang CoA. Hindi siya ang naghahabla,” PUlido-Tan stressed. (CoA is just a witness. It is not its duty to file charges.)

Asked if she received any “marching orders” from Aquino, the new CoA chief said she has yet to meet Aquino since the president surprised her by announcing her appointment to the state audit agency.

“It’s a good thing we didn’t (meet). CoA does not take marching orders from anyone,” Pulido-Tan said as she stressed that the agency is an independent constitutional body.

New chair determined

to keep COA clean

The Commission on Audit (COA) has a new chairperson in Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan.

Tan takes the helm of COA chair, taking over from Reynaldo Villar.






With her experience as a lawyer in the private sector and as an accountant, Tan is well-suited for the top COA post, said Malacaņang.

A private lawyer by profession, Tan was not always enthralled by the prospect of serving in government. But when the late Presidential Commission on Good Government tapped her to serve in the agency, she didn't think twice.

"It was very important to me that if I left my comfort zone, I wanted it to be with someone I admired and respected. I said yes," she said.

Tan later served as Finance Undersecretary for Revenue Operations under the Arroyo administration.

"I was there not to have a career in government. I was needed at that time," Tan revealed.

When Secretary (Isidro) Camacho resigned, she said she would also resign with him, but decided to stay on to help Undersecretary Juanita Amatong who took over the post, before she eventually returned to private practice.

Today, Tan said she intends to lead by example to ensure the agency remains above board.

"When you say 'graft buster', we always start with ourselves," Tan said on ANC's "The Rundown" on Friday.

"As head of the office, the buck stops with me. It's command responsibility. We have to police our own ranks so we can do the job we have been called upon to do the best way we can and in the most efficient and effective manner."

Cleaning up COA

Despite claims of irregularities among some COA officials, Tan said she believes there are dedicated public servants. She said she wants to get to know the commission's staff and will not hesitate to tap corrective measures if necessary.

Tan subscribes to proper documentation, and rotating auditors to keep them from becoming overly familiar with the agency they're auditing.

But Tan admitted it may not be easy to report discrepancies as there is still a need to balance this with the right to due process.

"Are we going to be proactive in filing complaints? We have to look at that because we might be going beyond our mandate. On the other hand, when there's a complaint, we can't just dismiss it. We have to identify and authenticate the report.

"I don't want to focus on it being a time of controversy for the COA, rather it's a time of coming out for the COA," she added.

A Commission of three

Tan said she welcomes the chance to work with celebrated whistle-blower and now COA commissioner Heidi Mendoza.

Tan added that Mendoza's own efforts at fighting corruption in government, by baring what she knows about alleged corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Congressional hearings, has helped bring the commission's work to the forefront.

"It's going to be a commission of three: Heidi, me and Commissioner Juanito Espino Jr.," Tan said.

"I'm not intimidated at all. I'm happy for her [that] people are taking notice. She brought the COA to the public consciousness, the nature of its work, and what the public can do to help.

"I'm glad she's there. That's going to make my job easier at the COA. What's important for me is if we're getting the job done," Tan added.

Bringing COA closer to the people

Tan will serve as COA chair until February 2, 2015.

During her term, she hopes to bring the Commission closer to the public by tapping its media arm. She also wants to make Filipinos realize that they have a stake in making government officials accountable.

"The COA was meant to give people a proper and full accounting of their money.

"We will strengthen the COA. We will bring it closer to the people. We will engage the people to help us carry out our constitutional mandate," Tan said.








In line with our theme of “MAPping a Culture of Integrity” and our goal this year to address Corruption, Criminality and Climate Change, we in the MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (MAP) highly commends the appointment of Ms. Heidi Mendoza as Commissioner of the Commission on Audit (COA).


MAP commits to continue helping Ms. Mendoza for her crusade against corruption which continues to be one of the biggest impediments to economic growth and prosperity in the country, and it has been eroding the moral fiber of the nation.


Corruption in public service is anti-poor and is blatantly opposed to the “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” battlecry of President Benigno C. Aquino III.  The public money that went to private pockets of greedy public officials and their families could have been used to fund programs for the poor on education, health care and housing.


We encourage Congress to immediately enact the Freedom of Information Law which will give the access to information heretofore hidden from public scrutiny, and the protection for truth-tellers and whistle-blowers.


We encourage the business community, especially the members of MAP, to support the anti-corruption programs of Commissioner Mendoza whose involvement in COA will certainly assist all of us in “MAPping a Culture of Integrity.”


Feedback at <>.  The previous statement can be viewed at


Mendoza dared: Start cleaning your office

A PARTY-LIST lawmaker yesterday challenged newly-appointed Commission on Audit (COA) commissioner Heidi Mendoza to start cleaning her office of the so-called undesirables.

Alyansa ng mga Grupo ng Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan (AGHAM) Rep. Angelo Palmones lauded President Aquino for his very sound decision as she urged Mendoza to clean her own backyard first.

“I commend P-Noy for appointing Heidi Mendoza as COA commissioner. It’s indeed a wise pick to get rid of corrupt officials in the government. Heidi can start in her own backyard,” said Palmones on Mendoza who made series of expose about the alleged widespread and high-profile corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr. and Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro “Teddy” Casiņo also commended the decision of President Aquino.

“The President made a very sound decision in appointing Ms. Mendoza at CoA. This would surely boost his campaign against graft and corruption. This is a very welcome
development and a laudable act on the part of the President,” said Barzaga on the President’s decision which includes the appointment of Finance Undersecretary Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan as chairman of the CoA.

Casiņo said “the appointment of Ms. Heidi Mendoza as COA commissioner can be the best thing that ever happened to the agency if it is followed by aggressive and concerted actions by COA officials and its rank and file to fulfill the agency’s mandate.”

But Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros Magsaysay and Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles challenged the whistle-blower to perform immediately so that she can deliver her advocacy against graft and corruption.

“She better walk the talk,” said Magsaysay, adding that it is important and crucial now for Mendoza to back up with concrete actions what she claimed before during congressional inquiries.

Some COA folk not exactly jumping for joy at Mendoza's return

By Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer - 04/06/2011

Old colleagues at the Commission on Audit (COA) are not exactly jumping for joy at Heidi Mendoza’s return and are hoping she will put her money where her mouth is - that is, get rid of scalawags in government.

Some officers and employees are still hurting from Mendoza’s earlier statements that have tarnished the institution’s name, COA officials said Tuesday.

And they ask, why is she going back now?

Outgoing COA Chair Reynaldo Villar acknowledged the resentments.

"Hindi mawawala yun (That can't be helped)," Villar said. "I don't know what is going to happen. I don't know, with everything she has done… To a certain extent it has affected the COA, it has damaged its image."

Mendoza earlier said some officials were not supportive when she was investigating anomalies in the military.

Assistant Commissioner for Finance Isabel Agito said she was surprised by Mendoza’s return. "After all that she had said about the COA, that it is corrupt, why does she want to go to a corrupt agency?"

Agito said Mendoza’s "sweeping statements" against the agency hurt people who felt there were also a lot of very honest workers at the commission.

"I hope she just didn't bring down the institution. I hope when she comes in, she would do something good to improve the institution," said Director Rolando Macale of the COA public information office.

Leonor Boado, head of the fraud audit investigation office, said that the commission had uncovered a lot of anomalies and busted a lot of corruption activities. She was also surprised that Mendoza would rejoin the audit agency, after all that she had said.

Boado said Mendoza should do what she said she would, which is to clean up the government.

She also said that regardless of who is heading the COA, its personnel would continue doing their best to serve the people and protect the institution.

"Officials come and go, but the institution stays. The institution should be preserved," she said.

As for the incoming COA chair, Villar said it would be good if she would meet with senior officials to find out what needs to be done at the agency. He also hopes the new chair would continue with reforms at the commission.

Heidi Mendoza believes she is welcome at audit body

By Leila Salaverria, Philippine Daily Inquirer - 04/06/2011

Newly appointed audit commissioner Heidi Mendoza believes she is returning to the Commission on Audit with the support of its personnel.

Mendoza said Wednesday that she had talked with CoA personnel before her appointment, and they assured her that they were behind her and her cause to do what is right.

She told the Philippine Dailsy Inquirer that she accepted the position of member of the commission because she could not turn her back on those who believed in her crusade.

From Feb. 1 through April 6, 2011 a total of
media articles have mentioned Heidi Mendoza's role as an auditor and witness in the Philippine military corruption scandals and her appointment to COA.
On YouTube there are about
videos of Heidi or mentioning her testimony or related to her new post.

I can’t walk from danger all the time – Heidi

by Domingo B. Natividad V

Whistle-blower Heidi Mendoza is back at the Commission on Audit (COA) after being named commissioner by President Benigno S. Aquino on Tuesday.

Mendoza, in an interview, said she cannot allow herself to walk away from danger all the time. This, in response to queries why she accepted the position at COA, the institution she left after uncovering anomalous transactions at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Mendoza revealed in Congressional hearings earlier that she received death threats and experienced sleepless nights after discovering the extent of corruption in the AFP.

With her appointment, she assured the Filipino nation of a stricter and better auditing service from COA. Meanwhile, the Filipino public hailed the appointment of Mendoza saying that her person is the kind of people that COA needs to fight graft and corruption in government...


Is Heidi Mendoza in for an unkind welcome at COA?

The appointment of state auditor turned whistle-blower Heidi Mendoza as Commission on Audit (COA) commissioner has been met with raised eyebrows within the agency she allegedly discredited. Mendoza explains her sentiments about and plans for the agency in an interview with Jessica Soho on 'State of the Nation


Heidi Mendoza eyes open-door policy in COA

Newly-appointed Commission on Audit (COA) commissioner Heidi Mendoza on Wednesday said she will adopt an "open-door" policy in the COA that will allow employees to voice their concerns and give suggestions on how best to clean up the agency.

Speaking to ANC, Mendoza said some COA employees are excited about starting anew and polishing the image of the commission.

"They know how to conduct audits the way it should be done. Many people are excited to start and do it the way its supposed to be done. I'm looking at -- what are the possible openings so they can connect and can express their message and send their reports, I am a bit open to both," she said.

She said she also believes she can do more to change the COA from within, rather than working outside as a critic.

"When you are outside government, nothing is good enough. When you are inside, somebody will be knocking at your door and you will have lots of opportunity to extend yourself. I'm opening my door to anyone. Mas maraming kakatok pag nasa loob ka eh. Kakaunti kakatok pag nasa labas," she said. ...

The COA was previously ranked the 6th most corrupt government agency, according to a Pulse Asia perception survey.

The survey, conducted last February 24 to March 6, showed that Mendoza was considered the most credible of 6 personalities involved in the military corruption scandal.

Bayan Muna party-list lawmaker Teddy Casiņo praised Malacaņang for appointing Mendoza to the COA.

"The appointment of Ms. Heidi Mendoza as COA commissioner can be the best thing that ever happened to the agency if it is followed by aggressive and concerted actions by COA officials and its rank and file to fulfill the agency's mandate," he said in a statement.

He added: "Her integrity and competence should be made to infect and animate the entire bureaucracy. Otherwise she will just end up as a useless decoration."


President Benigno Aquino III has appointed whistleblower Heidi Mendoza as commissioner of the Commission on Audit (COA).

Aquino also named Maria Gracia Pulido Tan as the new COA chairman.

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.

One of her past investigation led to the conviction of ex-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zacaria Candao for malversation of government funds worth P21 million. 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. 


Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan is a lawyer and CPA

Ms. Tan held position of  finance undersecretary for revenue operations from 2003 to 2005. She is a director at the Asia United Bank, and at the Rural Bank of Angeles City.

A former UP law professor, Tan worked for the Kyrgyz Republic from 2008 to 2009, for the Canadian International Development Agency from 2007 to 2008, and the KPMG Peat Marwick Main and Company in New York.

She used to be an associate at the Sycip Salazar Feliciano and Hernandez and at the Tan and Venturanza Law Offices.

In 2002 to 2003 she was a member of the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

Statement by Ricky Carandang, head of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office:

Asked what made Tan more qualified than Mendoza to head COA, Carandang said aside from being a lawyer, Tan is also a certified public accountant.

“She fits the bill and she’s already had a government experience," he said.

He said the President wants to have a mix of people who, first of all, were in sync with his administration’s vision for good governance and had a mix of administrative, operational and investigative skills.

“Both of these two have (these qualities) so we think that they are highly qualified and they’ll make a very good team at the helm of COA," Carandang said.

He said Aquino considered Mendoza for COA chairman post “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 when into the mix."

Tan, prior to her appointment as COA chairman, was a tax consultant and legal adviser.

She is also an independent director of the Asia United Bank and Rural Bank of Angeles.

She was a Finance undersecretary handling the revenue operations group from May 2003 to February 2005.

She also served as a commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government from October 2002 to May 2003.

He said the President expects Tan and Mendoza to carry out the duties of COA in the proper manner and “we believe they have qualifications to serve their posts."


Carandang believed that Mendoza’s appointment to COA will boost the administration’s drive against corruption.

“I think Ms Mendoza, as we’ve seen, has proven that she is very serious about anti- corruption and we believe that she will continue the efforts for good governance," he said.

Asked if Mendoza could still testify in congressional hearings with regards to the plea bargaining agreement with former military comptroller Maj. Gen, Carlos Garcia, Carandang said he is not sure.

Mendoza had followed the money trail of transactions by former military comptroller Carlos Garcia, who is facing a P303-million plunder suit at the Sandiganbayan.

She resigned from her job at the Asian Development Bank to prepare for her testimony against Garcia.

She appeared at several congressional hearings on the alleged corruption in the military.

Mendoza also hogged the headlines when she accused his former colleagues in the Commission on Audit of being “politicized."

“We have to ask the lawyers whether she would be able to or not. I don’t know if there are anymore hearings anyway in the Senate. We’ll have to ask for an opinion on that from the lawyers," he said.

Mendoza was a career officer at the COA. Her curriculum vitae stated that she started as an auditing aide III with the performance audit office of COA in 1984.

“She rose from the ranks due to her consistent dedication to duty even at the risk of her own life. In 2002, she worked for the issuance of a cease and desist order which saved the government from at least P188 million worth of fraudulent transactions and eventual filing of a criminal case and the defeat of a politician during an elections," the document stated.

“She also headed the Garcia plunder case financial investigation in 2004," it further stated.

At a forum in San Juan City in February this year, Mendoza said COA needs more “independence" so that it can better perform its role of looking into books of accounts of various government agencies.

“I look towards that day na ang ipagtatanggol na budget ng COA ay hindi politicized (when COA will defend a budget that is not politicized)," she said
.VVP, GMA News


Returning hero or villain?



Heidi Mendoza, the military corruption whistle-blower, is back at the Commission on Audit, not just as a CoA auditor, but as commissioner, although she did say that she had her eye on the CoA chairmanship, which she failed to get.

But apparently, her return to CoA, as a high ranking official, is not that welcomed by CoA people, as they reportedly feel that she had cast doubts on the integrity of the CoA and in the process, caused destruction to the institution, as well as her having given a blanket condemnation of the employees and officers of that agency she had called corrupt.

Every move she makes, every mistake she commits, every action or inaction in whatever her duties are, will definitely be watched by those in the CoA who feel they have been maligned, because Heidi did not just testify on the audit report she made on the military but also hit out at the CoA and pointing the finger at its officials and officers as either having covered up the past misdeeds, or ordered her to go slow, or their generally toeing the Malacaņang line.

That’s just one problem she faces upon her return to the agency, although Heidi claimed that the CoA people welcome her return.

Another problem for Heidi, along with the new chairman, would be whether they will truly be independent officials, as they are Noynoy Aquino’s appointees, in that they, as the high officials of CoA, would also dare bare whatever monkey business exists under the Aquino administration and its executive offices, including the Office of the President, because as sure as the sun shines, there will always be some irregularities committed which will be found, but about which the CoA usually doesn’t bare publicly.

And Heidi is pretty vulnerable to such attacks and criticisms, given the fact that even as she blew the whistle on the military corruption, and even as the media made her out to be such a heroine and a credible whistle-blower, a recent survey showed that the respondents didn’t find her that credible, with her obtaining only a paltry minority of some 22 percent, or not even a quarter of the respondents seeing Heidi as a credible witness.

Apparently, the respondents, claimed by the survey firm to represent the Filipino people, have an entirely different view from that which the media outfits portray as “good” versus “evil” or “credible” or “not credible.”

It looks like the electronic media are no longer that influential in shaping the public’s mind or the reflection of the “pulse of the people.” Still, many of the Yellow media have lost considerable credibility when it comes to news and public affairs, as the respondents don’t appear to agree with media’s portrayal of Heidi as a heroine. Nor, for that matter, do the survey respondents agree with the Yellow media and the Noynoy’s House members’ claim that the people voted overwhelmingly to have the Ombudsman impeached, since a slim majority — and a very slim one at that, given the +/-3 percent error margins — agreed.

It may even be worse for Heidi, as she might even be seen by the general public as having blown the whistle just to get back at her co-workers in CoA, and get, as a reward from Malacaņang, the high CoA post as commissioner.

Truth is, it was fairly easy for Heidi to turn whistle-blower under a new presidency and administration, especially since today’s presidency and administration are so focused on their politics of hate and vengeance. Anything that was said to have been hidden and unearthed against the previous administration is always music to the ears of the current Malacaņang tenant.

But will whistles be blown by the Noynoy appointees at the CoA and elsewhere where Noynoy’s appointees are now in power and positions, and all in the name of his claimed daang matuwid which seems to have taken the same crooked path?

Some things never change. Besides, those who do not toe the Palace line, can always be fired by Noynoy, as this is now his claim, which ensures definitively, that independence of these constitutional bodies can never be attained under such a system.




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