Heidi Mendoza: Woman of the hour

BEING offered a job by no less than the President of the Republic related to government’s fight against corruption is both a challenge and a tribute to a woman of principle and unquestionable honesty and integrity.

This is how I see the recent statement of President Benigno Aquino III saying he is open to offering Heidi Mendoza such a job.

It may be recalled that Mendoza was the leader of the 11-member audit team called in to examine the coffers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the term of comptroller Carlos Garcia.

Testifying before the House Committee on Justice, Mendoza said she discovered during the course of her team’s investigation irregularities that included missing funds in millions of pesos and dollars.

Mendoza said some P270 million of the AFP funds representing reimbursements from the United Nations were missing.

Mendoza said she was informed that in February 2001, a military officer personally picked up a $5-million check or P220 million based on the current exchange rate from the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

This was reimbursment for equipment used by Filipino troops sent abroad for UN peacekeeping missions.

She said the check never entered the books of accounts of the AFP.

Support for Mendoza came pouring in from ordinary people, the clergy, congressmen and senators, the Justice secretary and the President, specially when she divulged that her life and the lives of her husband and children are endanger after stepping on many toes.

One of the best tributes came came from Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino who told Mendoza “You have raised us a notch higher as Filipinos.”

Another tribute came from Commissioner Angelito Alvarez of the Bureau of Customs, a graft-ridden government institution, in the form of job offer in the agency should she decide to return to government service.

The President, however, wanted to talk to her first before he offers a position in the government because he did not want to force anyone. The President said Mendoza has already contributed and if she’s willing to contribute more, I could say why not?

We may add, however, that even if Mendoza will choose to stay in retirement her light will remain bright or even brighter for every Filipino to emulate. May her breed multiply.-Cornelio de Guzman

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