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MANILA, Philippines - Commissioner Heidi Mendoza of the Commission on Audit (COA) on Wednesday testified before the anti-graft court against Elenita Binay, wife of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
During her testimony, Mendoza told the Sandiganbayan's Fifth Division that the bidding for the P72-million furniture purchased when Mrs. Binay was still Makati City mayor was rigged.
Mendoza further testified that Office Gallery International Inc. and MFE International - two of the bidders had the same address.
She also claimed that the third bidder, Asia Concept, which was awarded the contract, was owned by the same entities who owned Office Gallery and MFE.
The COA official added that despite the absence of a floor plan from the city government, the three bidders were able to offer similar prices.
"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," Mendoza told the Sandiganbayan.
"We wondered how it was possible without any information. Without such information, the bidding should not have proceeded," she added.
'Mendoza using case to project herself'
In a statement released to the media on Wednesday, Joey SJ Salgado, head of the media affairs division of the Office of the Vice President, said that the "counsels of Dr. Elenita Binay are looking forward to her (Mendoza's) cross examination."
Mendoza will be cross-examined by the defense on November 7.
Salgado claimed that "Mendoza is using this case to project herself, considering that she has yet to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments."
"This selfish motive is at Dra. Binay’s expense," he added. According to Salgado, Mendoza "has a history of animosity towards the Binays."
"This could be because the Sandiganbayan dismissed a previous case against Dra. Binay on the basis of the findings of Ms. Mendoza," he said.
"The Sandiganbayan said Ms. Mendoza erred in her findings of alleged overpricing because she used a flawed methodology. The case had no factual basis," Salgado added.
Moreover, Salgado claimed that the COA official "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," he said.
Salgado is referring to the audit of the Makati Friendship Suites, which he said "is an issue that has been investigated during the administration of Mrs. Arroyo."
He said the city government was cleared by COA and no charges were filed against the Binays in relation to the issue.
"We hope Ms. Mendoza does not drag down with her the image of COA," Salgado said.