COA official testifies vs Binay's wife-A A +A
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
MANILA -- Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioner Heidi Mendoza on Wednesday testified on the graft case filed against the wife of Vice President Jejomar Binay before the Sandiganbayan over alleged anomalous purchase of furniture for the Makati City hall.
Appearing before the anti-graft court's Fifth Division, the COA official said the bidding for the furniture amounting to P72 million during the term of city mayor Elenita Binay had been rigged.
"Basically the findings were about rigged bidding," said Mendoza who was the Makati City Government's resident auditor when the purchase was made in 2000.
Ex-mayor Binay's co-accused in the graft charge are City Councilor Salvador Pangilinan, former city administrator Nicanor Santiago Jr., then city treasurer Ernesto Aspillaga and private defendant Bernadette Aquino.
During direct examination conducted by Prosecution Bureau Director Omar Sagadal, Mendoza said two of the three supposed bidders—Office Gallery International Inc. and MFE International— for the office furniture had same address.
She noted also that the bidding announcement was published in a local newspaper, the Metro Profile, contrary to the requirement set by the COA and the Local Government Code that invitation for bids should be posted in newspapers of general circulation.
Mendoza further said that the three contending bidders were able to offer the same prices and items despite the absence of a floor plan.
"In our report, we observed that bidders were able to offer similar specifications. They quoted the similar numbers (of fixtures), same types and similar specifications. We wondered how it was possible without any information. Without such information, the bidding should not have proceeded," the COA official told the court.
A statement released on Wednesday by the Office of the Vice President accused Mendoza of using the former mayor's case to "project herself" especially that she has yet to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments (CA).
"Ms. Mendoza, of course, has a history of animosity towards the Binays. This could be because the Sandiganbayan dismissed a previous case against Dr. Binay on the basis of the findings of Ms. Mendoza. The Sandiganbayan said Ms. Mendoza erred in her findings of alleged overpricing because she used a flawed methodology," it said.
To recall, the Sandiganbayan in April 2011 junked the graft case against Binay's wife for weak evidence linking her to the excessive purchase of furniture and office partitions in 2000 and 2001.
"Commissioner Mendoza has been very vocal about her dislike for the Vice President, particularly, even before her designation as Commissioner. Her dislike has escalated since then to such an extent that she is apparently using the resources of COA to pursue her own agenda," the Vice President said.
Mendoza, who testified in the P303 million plunder case filed against former military general Carlos Garcia, will return to Sandiganbayan on November 7 for the cross-examination by the defense. (Kathrina Alvarez/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)