The 200 M check: the smoking gun in Garcia plunder case

By Ellen Tordesillas
Tuesday, January 25. 2011
Malaya Business Insight

If the general public was appalled by the plea bargain agreement struck by Maj. Gen. (ret.) Carlos Garcia and the Office of the Ombudsman , one can just imagine how it was with Heidi Mendoza, the government auditor who was the lone prosecution witness who gave documentary evidence in the plunder case against the former military comptroller.

Mendoza, who withstood all kinds of pressure while she was investigating the Garcia plunder case, said it was so painful to hear and read government prosecutors say that the reason they had to accept Garcia’s offer for plea bargain was because the evidence was weak.

She said that’s what everybody was telling her and her team when they were conducting their investigation. Garcia was a smart guy, there was no paper trail in the more than P300 million that he was accused of filching from government funds.

But God works in mysterious ways. Over the weekend, in an interview with some members of media, Mendoza relates that moment when she found the P200 million check signed by Garcia amidst a pile of documents in the storage room of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

How that P200 million, part of the fund from the United Nations for the Filipino peacekeepers, was funneled into Garcia’s personal accounts is a tale of connivance not only among government officials but also with the bank officials. There are even talks of romantic liaisons.

The fake accounts, the irregular transactions could not have been done without the cooperation of high officials of the bank. In the case of the P200 million, it was the United Coconut Planters Bank, where government is represented by the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

The AFP Inter-agency Transfer Fund, for which this check was intended, does not exist, according to state auditors who probed the plunder case of ex-military comptroller Carlos Garcia. VERA Files
In the intervention filed by the Office of the Solicitor General to the plea bargain, it mentioned the name of Edith Bondoc, assistant vice president and branch head of UCPB, Alfaro branch where the mysterious transactions were conducted.

Bondoc, who we understand is now in Las Vegas and married to a former member of the Presidential Security Group during the time of President Cory Aquino, is not included in the plunder suit nor was she ever called to testify in the case.

Mendoza has a long list of frustrating incidents on the Garcia case. One of those was the withdrawal of authorization by her former boss, then COA Chairman Guillermo Carague. She was earlier warned that five of her bosses were under the pay of Garcia.

Media and the public also had been remiss. Mendoza recalled that the many times that she was at the witness stand at the Sandiganbayan hearings, “Not one of the media was there, not one of the so-called concerned citizens can be found, not one anti-corruption civil society was there to monitor the case.”

Shocked by the prospect of Garcia (he is now out on bail) getting away with plunder of money intended for soldiers, who lay down their lives for the country, civil society groups have pledged to support Mendoza.

Last week Mendoza resigned from her job. Asked why is she doing this, she recites the letter of the late Sen. Jose Diokno , from his prison cell, to his son Jose Manuel (Cel) Diokno :

Why be honest, when it pays to be dishonest?
Why fight for others when they won’t fight for you?
The answer, I think lies in what life means to you.
If life means having a good time, money, fame, power, security, then you don’t need principles;
All you need are techniques.
On the other hand, if happiness counts more than a good time,
Respect more than fame,
Right more than power and peace of soul more than security;
If death doesn’t end life but transforms it, then you must be true to yourself and to God and love the truth and justice and freedom - THAT ARE GOD’s OTHER NAMES

No comments: