The Carlos Garcia Plunder Case: Heidi Mendoza of COA speaks up

With all the talks about the worsening car-napping cases and the recent bus explosion that happened in Makati, the mainstream media might have forgotten their favorite news item last December.

The Garcia plunder case which is now downgraded to a bribery case as a result of a plea bargain agreement proposed by our beloved special prosecutor from our beloved Ombudsman.

Former ombudsman Marcelo was surprised why the prosecution entered the plea bargain agreement option as this is usually taken only if the evidences are weak. According to Marcelo, this was not the case.

The prosecution says otherwise. According to the prosecution, for a government official to have millions and millions of undeclared wealth is not enough proof for the crime of plunder. Never mind that the annual salary of the individual will not even reach one million.

But the law is the law, even if common sense says otherwise, having no solid proof will not result to a conviction. Especially with the innocent until proven guilty creed. My only comment is that how were they not able to find any evidence.

Well apparently, if we are to believe Heidi Mendoza’s statement, not only did they not do a good job in finding proof, powerful people have made sure that the evidence found by the former ombudsman was never used.

Heidi Mendoza stated that she headed a special six-member team the Commission on Audit detailed with the Office of the Ombudsman from 2004 to 2006 to investigate Garcia’s transactions. She has worked for COA for more than two decades and has won several corruption cases. In her opinion, basing on dozens of cases that she has handled, there was enough evidences found to convict Garcia on plunder. Unfortunately, not only did she not get enough support from the government and from the media, she was even asked to slow down her investigation and ultimately asked her to stop.

Click here for some information on the evidences that her team has uncovered. Below are some excerpt of the articles if you’re too lazy to read the article.

Finally, one day, afer spending a day and a half in a dusty “bodega” (storage room) of the AFP, she and her team of auditors finally came upon the P200 million transaction.

It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. “Ginulo talaga nila ang files (They really messed up the files),” Mendoza said.

The auditors had to rifle through every folder and scrutinize each document it contained to find the “smoking gun” evidence against Garcia.

Mendoza’s team turned up a memorandum dated Nov. 21, 2002 in which Garcia authorized the opening of an “AFP Inter-Agency Transfer Fund” account with the UCPB in the amount of the P200 million.

The account name itself was already questionable because, Mendoza said, it refers to an entity—the AFP Inter-agency Transfer Fund—that does not exist.

Through an undated disbursement voucher he and Col. Fernando S. Zabat signed, a check in the amount of P200 million and dated Nov. 28, 2002 was issued from the AFP’s Land Bank account and deposited to the newly opened UCBP account. The account was a savings account (No. 132-1121-431-8) linked to a current account (No. 132-002-731-6) with an automatic transfer feature.

Strangely, the check cleared on the same day. The normal clearing period for checks of other banks is three days.

Stranger still was that the entire P200 million was never deposited to the AFP Inter-Agency Transfer Fund account as the disbursement voucher had intended.

The third passbook with the serial number 347266 for the second PSD 1743 to which the P50 million was purportedly deposited was submitted by the AFP for audit and was supposedly issued also by the UCBP Alfaro branch.

But Mendoza and her team would later confirm that the passbook not only bore tampered entries but was “fictitious and could not be identified.” A letter from UCPB Alfaro admitted that this particular savings account did not exist in its system.

The auditors instead traced the account to the UCPB branch on Tordesillas Street in Makati. “Said acts cannot be consummated without the participation of bank officials,” they said.

Just in case you have no idea on what Major General Carlos Garcia did, click here for more information.

credits: ABS-CBN News

Update: Malacañang has promised its support to Heidi Mendoza.


Manila Hostage Crisis: The Cronies Strike Back

For some Anti-Pnoys, Christmas was last August 23.

The first tragedy during the Noynoy administration and all the sore losers from last election came out to pin every blame to the President. Never mind that Mayor Lim was the one who was in charge of the situation. Why should Noynoy takeover? Lim is the mayor of the city where the hostage crisis is taking place. He was a former NBI director and also a former policeman. He is better equipped to handle the situation than the president.

Now the minorities are saying that Ex-president GMA’s crisis management team could have handled the situation better, citing some incidents that they believe were handled properly.

I remember one of the incident stated.

The ATO control tower takeover last 2002 was resolved by killing the perpetrator. The guy had a pistol and a hand grenade with no hostage. The guy was not a trained policeman. And GMA’s response is to screw negotiation and ordered his death. Oh yeah, I was awake during this event listening on the radio. The guy, Villaruel, was screaming on his phone that he surrenders. A few minutes later, he was killed.

Now I know what some of you might say. You’ll say that lives are at stake here as the control tower guide the planes coming in to land. Let me ask you this. As soon as Villaruel died, do you honestly think that the people working in the control tower got back up and started working? Do you think that no equipment was damaged during the shootout?

Another thing stated was Gibo’s excellent crisis management skills during the Manila Peninsula Seige. Okay, this time the perpetrators are armed and trained, I’ll give you that. But do they even have any human hostage? Also, what was Gibo’s magnificent solution in solving the crisis? Do you even remember? I do. He sent a freaking tank to fire dozens of rounds on Manila Peninsula’s lobby. So that was his masterful handling of the situation.

Oh and let’s not forget his “masterful” crisis management skills during the Ondoy disaster.

The Taguig hostage crisis back in 2007? That lasted almost 24 hours and the hostage taker was killed. Also, take note that the grenade that he was holding exploded. LUCKILY, no one was hurt by the explosion. The event occurred in the Taguig Hall of Justice which I assume is spacious as  no one was hurt from the grenade explosion. Imagine that same situation except the venue was inside a bus.

BTW, if you think about it, the days before the Ampatuan massacre was a crisis too. The palace knows of the tension between the Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus. They even had a meeting with the Mangudadatus, asking them to withdraw their candidacy to prevent any violence from occurring.

The government did had a lot of mistakes made during the hostage-taking last August 23. But to say that GMA’s team was better in handling crisis is bullshit. Dos Palmas, anyone?

The Sharing of Power

President-to-be Benigno Aquino III a few weeks ago said in a news conference that he would be sharing 50% to 80% of his power to Mar Roxas should both of them get elected. This statement sparked a lot of debate mostly about how this prove that Aquino is incompetent, unprepared, and undeserving of the presidential position. And even though we do not even know what the specific powers that would be shared, let me still try to defend my candidate.

This reminded me of a story my dad used to tell me when I was a kid. During Magsaysay’s bid for presidency, he was looking for a running mate. He asked then Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson to be his running mate but the offer was turned down. Lacson was rumored to have said that the vice president’s only job is to pray that the president dies, and that Magsaysay was as strong as a carabao so that it is unlikely to happen.

The vice-presidents of the post-Marcos era have had more to do than praying for the president’s death. Vice president Laurel became head of foreign affairs. Vice president Estrada was head of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission. Vice president Arroyo was the head of DSWD and vice president De Castro was the head of HDMF (formerly Pag-IBIG).

On this 4 cases, no vice president was given enough power to experience what it is like to be a president. If we think about it, each president’s executive secretary has more presidential function than the supposed next in line.

I remember a comic strip where, in a classroom, a teacher asks her smart-ass student who is the second most powerful man in the country. The boy answered executive secretary. The teacher said it was wrong and that the correct answer is the vice president. The class then burst into laughter, heckling their teacher.

So now we have our president to be claiming that he would share 50%-80% of his power to his running mate should they both win. Let me point out first that he said share, not give. Think of it as something like flying a plane. Aquino would be the captain and Roxas would be the first officer. In commercial aviation, the first officer is the second pilot (sometimes referred to as the “co-pilot”) of an aircraft. The first officer is second-in-command of the aircraft, to the captain who is the legal commander. In the event of incapacitation of the captain, the first officer will assume command of the aircraft. Even when the first officer is the one flying plane, the captain remains ultimately responsible for the aircraft, its passengers, and the crew. In typical day-to-day operations, the essential job tasks remain fairly equal.

On the previous four administrations, the vice president is not given that much responsibility the same way a captain would share to his co-pilot. The reason is probably because the president and vice president is not from the same party or they are not in very good terms.

On the previous four administrations, 2 of the vice presidents ended up being the next president. Wouldn’t it make sense giving them some practice?

Of course, all of these discussion is moot if Roxas do not win the vice presidency.