Speaking truth to power: Who is Heidi Mendoza?
Commission on Audit (CoA) commissioner Heidi Mendoza has been appointed by United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as the new undersecretary general for the internal oversight services of the UN.
READ: UN chief nominates COA’s Mendoza as internal unit head
With a public service career spanning more than two decades, Mendoza had her share of controversies—receiving death threats and being tagged in corruption allegations as she testified in hearings and put corrupt officials in jail.
Here are some facts about Mendoza:
1. Mendoza is a policeman’s daughter from Tayabas, Quezon
Mendoza was born on November 3, 1962 in Tayabas, Quezon to Agapito Lloce Sr., a policeman. She was the second to the youngest in a brood of seven. Mendoza graduated valedictorian in her local high school and graduated with a degree in Accountancy from Sacred Heart College in Lucena City in 1983 and passed the Certified Public Accountant Licensure Exam in 1984.
She finished a master’s degree in Public Administration, specializing in Fiscal Administration in 1996 from University of the Philippines-Diliman and a master’s degree in National Security Administration in 2003 at the National Defense College of the Philippines.
She is married to Meynardo Mendoza and has three children.
2. Her career in the CoA spans more than two decades
Shortly after getting her CPA license, she entered the Commission on Audit as an Auditing Aide II with the agency’s Performance Audit office. She then became State Auditor IV and Value for Money Audit Division chief until 2000.
In her curriculum vitae, she said that she eventually rose from the ranks “due to her consistent dedication to duty even at the risk of her own life.”
In March 2011, she was appointed as CoA commissioner by President Benigno Aquino III, replacing Evelyn San Buenaventura. Her term is set to expire on February 2, 2018.
Last February, she became officer-in-charge of the CoA after the term of CoA Chair Grace Pulido Tan expired.
3. She exposed various anomalies and tagged Dr. Elenita Binay in a corruption charge
In 2011, she came out from her private life and risked losing her job at the Asian Development Bank as a consultant to expose the corrupt practices plaguing the military. She testified against former military comptroller Carlos Garcia who was accused of amassing P303.27 million of ill-gotten wealth while he was still in service.
Mendoza led the team which audited military transactions between 2004 and 2006. She then testified before the House of Representatives and the Sandiganbayan regarding Garcia’s case. However, Garcia was able to bolt out of jail after posting a P60,000 bail in 2011 after the Ombudsman’s Office of the Special Prosecutor accepted his plea bargain to a lesser sentence.
She also led an auditing team which found that former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Atty. Zacaria A. Candao committed malversation of P21 million in government funds.
Mendoza said that she did not drop the case against Candao despite being offered money. In 2010, the Supreme Court affirmed Candao’s conviction.
In 2012, after becoming CoA commissioner, she tagged former Makati mayor Elenita Binay, the wife of Vice President Jejomar Binay, in an alleged rigging of the bidding of a P72-million project implemented in 2001.
During the Senate hearings on the alleged corrupt acts done during Vice President’s term as Makati mayor which started last year, Mendoza also exposed the results of her 2002 auditing report which showed that Makati City purchased overpriced medical supplies and equipment in 2000 and 2001 worth P61 million out of a total purchase price of P70 million.
She even testified that she was called by suspicious persons and that her house had suffered break-ins when she became a witness against the Binays in the Sandiganbayan.
READ: Mendoza: We’re being threatened, pressured
4. Her CoA appointment was almost blocked by Senators Binay, Estrada
By testifying against her parents and pinning them on corruption allegations, Mendoza got a tough grilling from Senator Nancy Binay during her appointment bid as CoA commissioner in June 2014.
Binay tagged Mendoza as an “attack dog of people with ambitions.”
READ: Nancy Binay: COA Commissioner Mendoza out to destroy my family
On the other hand, now-detained Senator Jinggoy Estrada also threatened to block Mendoza’s appointment after a CoA report tagged him as one of the lawmakers who transferred his pork barrel funds to bogus nongovernment organizations.
5. She is a poet at heart
When she is not busy cleaning up the government in her anti-corruption crusade, Mendoza said that she turns to poetry to express her feelings and convey her messages to her “fellow soldiers.”
In her poem, “Sundalo Una sa Lahat” published in “Pahimakas at Pahalumatyag: A collection of Tagalog inspirational poems for our soldiers,” she asked fellow troopers to remain focused on their oath of service and not fall victim to corruption. IDL
Sources: Inquirer Archives, various news reports, Official Gazette
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