CAGAYAN DE ORO City, Jan. 25, 2011â€”â€œHuwag ho nating hayaan na maghari ang kasamaan! (Let us not allow evil to reign!)â€
With this message, former state auditor Heidi Mendoza who testified against ex-military comptroller Carlos Garcia urged citizenry to be vigilant in monitoring the government’s budget process.
Mendoza, who talked with representatives of various civil-society organizations (CSOs) during the â€œLearning Session on Budget Process, Policy Advocacy and Budget Execution and Accountabilityâ€ of the Budget Tracking for Transparent Accountable Governance (BTTAG) Project at the International Center of Peace (IC Peace) In Mindanao here said that each and every citizen has a responsibility to his/her fellow, especially in arresting
corruption in government.
This responsibility, she stressed, extends outside the home and not just for government or former government officials or employees.
â€œI believed that the biggest responsibility is our responsibility towards our fellowmen,â€ she said.
â€œWe are all called to serve our country, one way or another. And this is not just for people in government,â€ she added.
This is the reason why after resigning from the Commission on Audit (COA) in 2006 and testifying before the Sandiganbayan from 2007 to 2009 in the Garcia case, Mendoza once again came out and divulged what she knew based on evidences she gathered during her investigative work.
Mendoza also worked at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as anti-corruption specialist, but she resigned from her job on January 21.
â€œWe are all here for a mission, for a purpose. We only have one country and so we must do our best to deliver what is expected of us,â€ she told the representatives of CSOs who are partnering with The Asia Foundation (TAF), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (BMFI) in implementing the BTTAG Project in 3 provinces and 17 municipalities/cities all over Mindanao.
Mendoza said that BTTAG is very important and a very noble project as it equip simple citizens the basic skills and knowledge in planning and most especially monitoring the budget of local government units (LGUs).
But she cautioned CSOs against falling on the trap of looking at just the government spending.
â€œThere are two sides of accountability when we talk of public budget: We must not just look on the expenses but also on the revenue,â€ she said.
She also said that the citizenry should grab the opportunity afforded to them by the Aquino administration in monitoring government finance.
But more than grabbing the opportunity, the citizenry should also exert its influence on government finance, she added.
â€œPart of budget monitoring is the citizen exerting the influence,â€ she said.
She said she is happy that the Aquino administration is treading the road less traveled when it put a CSO desk in the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
â€œThis administration is very open as there is a CSO desk in the DBM,â€ she said.
Responding to Mendozaâ€™s urgings, the more than 20 CSO representatives who attended the 3-day â€œLearning Sessionâ€ at the IC Peace In Mindanao of the BMFI drew up detailed activities on how to go about journeying with their respective LGUs in tracking, evaluating and monitoring LGU finance. (Bong D. Fabe)