Former state auditor Heidi Mendoza, one of the key witness
to the Garcia case, talks before representatives of various
civil-society organizations (CSOs) all over Mindanao on the
importance of monitoring the budget process of local
government units (LGUs). Photo:
ORO CITY – “Huwag ho nating hayaan na maghari ang kasamaan! (Let
us not let evil reign!)”
message, former state auditor Heidi Mendoza, who testified against
ex-military comptroller Carlos Garcia, urged the citizenry to be
vigilant in monitoring the budget process of the government.
talked with representatives of various civil-society organizations
(CSOs) during the “Learning Session on Budget Process, Policy
Advocacy and Budget Execution and Accountability” of the Budget
Tracking for Transparent Accountable Governance (BTTAG) Project at
the International Center of Peace (IC Peace) in Mindanao here said
that each and every citizen has a responsibility to his/her fellow,
especially in arresting corruption in government.
responsibility, she stressed, extends outside the home and not just
for government or former government officials or employees.
that the biggest responsibility is our responsibility towards our
fellowmen,” she said.
“We are all
called to serve our country, one way or another. And this is not
just for people in government,” she added.
This is the
reason why after resigning from the Commission on Audit (COA) in
2006 and testifying before the Sandiganbayan from 2007 to 2009 in
the Garcia case, Mendoza once again came out and divulged what she
knew based on evidences she gathered during her investigative work.
that she could just sit back, be silent and enjoy her new job with
the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as anti-corruption specialist. But
the pull of her responsibility to the country was so strong that she
had to give up her well-paying job with ADB so she could shout to
high heavens what she knows of the controversial Garcia case that
has dragged on for years.
resigned from the ADB effective January 21.
“We are all
here for a mission, for a purpose. We only have one country and so
we must do our best to deliver what is expected of us,” she told
representatives of CSOs who are partnering with The Asia Foundation
(TAF), United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
and Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (BMFI) in implementing the BTTAG
Project in 3 provinces and 17 municipalities/cities all over
that BTTAG is very important and a very noble project as it equips
simple citizens the basic skills and knowledge in planning and most
especially monitoring the budget of local government units (LGUs).
cautioned the CSOs against falling on the trap of looking at just
the government expending. “There are two sides of accountability
when we talk of public budget: We must not just look on the expenses
but also on the revenue,” she stressed.
She said that
the citizenry should grab the opportunity afforded to them by the
Aquino administration in monitoring government finance. But more
than grabbing the opportunity, the citizenry should exert its
influence on government finance, Mendoza added.
budget monitoring is the citizen exerting the influence,” she
She said that
she is happy that the Aquino administration is treading the road
less traveled when it put a CSO desk in the Department of Budget and
Management (DBM). “This administration is very open as there is a
CSO desk in the DBM,” she said.
Mendoza’s urgings, the more than 20 CSO representatives who
attended the 3-day “Learning Session” at the IC Peace in
Mindanao of the Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (BMFI) drew up
detailed activities on how to go about journeying with their
respective LGUs in tracking, evaluating and monitoring LGU finance.