Prosecute erring CoA chiefs (3)

Ten articles of impeachment were fully crafted and supported by visible, solid and incontrovertible evidence against Grace Pulido-Tan and Heidi Mendoza for various acts that comprise a culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of public trust, and graft and corruption that rendered them absolutely unfit for the position of chairperson and commissioner of the Commission on Audit (CoA).

The Constitution provides a process for holding CoA commissioners to account on the principle that “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” The Constitution provides for a mechanism to remove them from their positions.

When the time came to initiate the impeachment proceedings, there were long discussions on the pros and cons of the undertaking, until finally, we changed course in deference to the advice of a senior senator. At the height of the folly of the top audit tandem, the senator encouraged us to prepare the articles of impeachment. However, after some months, he told us to abort the plan for the simple reason that the move will just turn the two intended respondents into martyrs and us into villains.

On the other hand, we had a far different and serious reason — to avoid possible global shame for the country, that the Philippines paid its lawmakers to convict an innocent Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and paid them again to save its Audit chairperson and commissioner from sure conviction.

The Aquino administration used P6.5 billion from the little-known Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) before, during and after the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona to bend Congress to its will: P5 billion for the prosecutors (congressmen) and P1.5 billion for the judges (senators), as admitted by the Department of Budget and Management under then Secretary Florencio Abad.

CoA received at least P143.7 million, thereby sealing its loss of power to enforce its constitutional mandate.

Corona was convicted in May 2012.

We perceived with certainty that once we had filed the complaints of impeachment against Grace Pulido-Tan and Heidi Mendoza, President Noynoy Aquino would come all out to their rescue, utilizing his power and government funds, if only to save them from conviction, perhaps even much more than what was spent to convict Chief Justice Corona. That would be a record to behold for the whole world to think and ponder how a small and developing country, founded on the principles of a republican state under a democratic system of government, is being towed by an inept and overrated head of state with a dysfunctional audit commission toward the dark side of world history.

Together, let us trace with all earnestness the cause of the failure of the national government to run the affairs of the state efficiently, economically and effectively with a dysfunctional Commission on Audit.

Too often, after the advent of the new leadership under Grace and Heidi, one can hear the lamentation of sadness of the rank and file because they were so often abandoned by their commission proper who were in frequent foreign travel; the general public was complaining that every time they follow up their papers, the decision makers were nowhere to entertain them on their pleas; and even the Supreme Court, learning of this situation, had expressed its concern on this most important regulatory institution.

Proponents of impeachment considered constant foreign travel as the number one national concern.

ARTICLE I. Respondent committed culpable violation of the Constitution and/or betrayal of public trust and/or committed graft and corruption for failing to focus on her constitutional duties and responsibilities because she was often been out of the county. She traveled 33 times, 28 times after her assumption as chairperson of the Commission on Audit (CoA).

This frequent travel adversely affected her performance as chief auditor of the country, lowering the quality and quantity of commission proper decisions and the performance of the audit staff.

While Grace and Heidi were away, their functions were made to appear as being exercised by a “Mini-Commission Proper,” composed of assistant commissioners and/or the commissioners’ chiefs of staff, according to central office old-timers.

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