Binay lawyer grills Mendoza on COA probe

Posted at 11/07/12 6:07 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Commission on Audit (COA) Commissioner Heidi Mendoza on Wednesday admitted the commission itself did not sanction the graft case filed against former Makati City Mayor Elenita Binay.

Binay’s lawyer, Sandra Marie Olaso-Coronel, managed to source from Mendoza on cross-examination that the complaint was only sanctioned up to the COA Legal Services.

Coronel did not ask any more questions from Mendoza. She also did not entertain questions from reporters on the impact of Mendoza’s admission.

In a text message sent to reporters, Vice President Jejomar Binay’s spokesperson Joey Salgado said: “The statement elicited from Commissioner Mendoza seems to validate our long-held observation that she has been using the powers of COA to pursue an unsanctioned political demolition job against the Binays.”

Mrs. Binay, the wife of the Vice President, is accused of approving allegedly anomalous contracts worth about P72 million to purchase office furniture for the Makati City Hall in 2000 and 2001.

Mendoza claimed the bidding for the furniture had been rigged and that Mrs. Binay had failed to present a floor plan during the bidding. She said 3 companies - Asia Concept, MFE International and Office Gallery - were able to offer the same prices and items even without the floor plan.

Mendoza claimed Asia Concept was awarded the contract the next day. It was later discovered that the 3 companies were owned by the same person.

During the same hearing, Mendoza also said there is no law prohibiting Asia Concept from transacting and receiving payment on behalf of another firm.

She also admitted it was not Binay who issued the payments to the supplier, but the city government’s cashier.

A similar case was already junked earlier by another division of the Sandiganbayan.