The House of Representatives threatened to detain Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos if she will not attend a hearing on July 25 on the alleged misuse of P66 million in tobacco funds.
Rep. Johnny Pimentel, chairman of the House Good Government and Public Accountability panel, said Marcos will not go unpunished if she will defy the subpoena issued to her by the House.
“If she does not show up, her arrest and detention is as sure as the sun rising tomorrow. Her detention space in the House of Representatives is being readied,” Pimentel said in a statement.
”We had the chamber prepared right after Governor Marcos publicly declared that she will dodge our July 25 hearing, despite our subpoena and show cause order compelling her to explain satisfactorily why she should not be held in contempt for her brazen defiance,” he added.
The governor earlier said that she wanted to show up in the congressional hearing but her brother, former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. advised her not to attend because she may end up being detained.
“My panel could issue the warrant for the governor’s arrest on the day of the hearing, as soon as we’ve ascertained she’s not around to bear witness,” Pimentel said.
Governor Marcos was invited to three hearings but she did not show up.
“The governor has already tried to explain in media interviews where the money went, how it was spent, and so on. Why can’t she just dutifully show up at our hearing, hand in the documents that her staff couldn’t produce, recount her remarks under oath, and submit herself to a proper cross-examination by the committee?” the lawmaker said.
On May 29, the House detained six Ilocos Norte government officials for refusing to confirm purchase orders and vouchers that they signed in connection with the use of the P66 million to buy motor vehicles for farmers without public bidding.
Pimentel said the governor will join the six provincial officials.
“She’ll be okay in detention, though she might miss certain luxuries, considering the high life she’s accustomed to,” the lawmaker said.
Pimentel’s panel conducted an emergency hearing on June 20 to give the detained officials a chance to answer queries but all of them were mum. They claimed that they cannot comment since the original copies of the purchase order and vouchers were lost.
The Court of Appeals ordered the release of the six Ilocos Norte officials but the House defied the court, saying it cannot usurp congress’ power to cite in contempt resource persons who refuse to tell the truth.