Heidi Mendoza Redux

Feb 2nd 2011

The world is getting to know Heidi Mendoza just now. She is the subject of TV, radio and print news. She’s the darling of Facebook and Twitter posts. All because the ex-COA auditor appeared in a Congressional inquiry to expose how millions (maybe billions) of pesos are being misused by the Philippine military.

Employees of the Communication Foundation for Asia were introduced to Heidi almost exactly three years ago – when she guested in a conference called “The Dark Side: Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Corruption in the Government (But Were Afraid to Ask).” CFA hosted the conference on February 28, 2008, at the height of the uproar over the NBN-ZTE scandal.

In that conference, Heidi gave a first-hand account of cases she had investigated, including a P20M fraud lawsuit in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (which led to a conviction), and the alleged large-scale looting of AFP funds by high-level officers, involving retired Gen. Carlos Garcia. The latter case has provoked public anger when, despite damning testimonies by Heidi and others, government prosecutors supported Garcia’s plea to a lesser, bailable offense, instead of the non-bailable charge of plunder.

There are six video clips made available from Ms Mendoza’s talk at CFA. One of the clips is entitled “What is Corruption?” in which Ms Mendoza describes (in her expressive Tagalog) how fighting corruption is like being a mother – one can never rest.

A consummate corruption fighter, Heidi’s crusade has brought her face-to-face with threats, including violent ones. Several years ago, she was in a bus when a hitman poked a gun at her. The attempt was aborted by an old woman seated beside Heidi, who pleaded with the would-be killer to spare Heidi’s life.

Heidi Mendoza (along with former Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio, former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca, Fr Bert Alejo, SJ, and PNP Col. Cesar Binag) is featured in a CFA documentary video on anti-corruption, Candles in the Dark.

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