Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos has cried “politics” on an order of the House of Representatives to detain six Ilocos Norte provincial government employees at the chamber’s home at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City for their reported refusal to shed light on alleged misuse of P66.45 million in tobacco funds to buy vehicles under the governor’s watch.
“We know that there is a political angle to the continued detention of our employees. But we think that Congress should not have been dragged into the issue. More important, we are saddened that small employees are paying for claims of wrongdoing against them,” Marcos told the media on Monday before the start of a hearing before the Court of Appeals (CA) on the detention of the six provincial government staff.
During the CA hearing of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by the six employees, House Sergeant-at-Arms Roland Detabali failed to appear before the appellate court and present the detained Ilocos Norte officials.
Also during the hearing, former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza, lawyer for the Ilocos Norte employees, assailed the detention, which, he said, was without legal basis since the petitioners answered questions of lawmakers also during hearing last week at the House of Representatives.
“Well, we are here to help our employees. What we want most is for them to be released, because we know that their detention rose from a local political problem that should have not been brought here in the first place, with Congress used for political ends. Again, let us not use our small employees, some of whom, we heard, have fallen ill during their detention,” Marcos said.
Detabali had been ordered the first time around to present before the court the six Ilocos Norte employees, who have been detained since May 29 after being cited in contempt by the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability headed by Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Farinas during its investigation of the alleged misuse of the tobacco funds.
The petition for a writ of habeas corpus was lodged by the provincial employees’ legal counsel, Da Vinci Crisostomo.
Farinas did not heed Crisostomo’s petition.
The Court of Appeals had asked Congress why the House sergeant-at-arms should not be cited for contempt for failure to comply with the court order.
Farinas and Marcos used to be party mates in the Nacionalista Party (NP).
The Ilocos Norte governor, however, did not issue a Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (Cona) to Fariñas for the May 2016 elections–a required document to make Fariñas the official NP candidate for the congressional seat of the 1st District of Ilocos Norte.
The six detained at the House Legislative Building are Pedro Agcaoili, Provincial Planning and Development Office chairman; Josephine Calajate, provincial treasurer; Eden Battulayan, Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff; Encarnacion Gaor, Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff; Genedine Jambaro, Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff; and Evangeline Tabulog, Provincial Budget Officer. JOMAR CANLAS