Lawmaker vows to quit panel if Imee proves bribery claim

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SURIGAO del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel on Tuesday vowed to resign the chairmanship of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability investigating alleged anomalies in the use of tobacco funds by Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, if the latter proves her claim that lawmakers were offered P100 million to ensure her detention at the Batasang Pambansa.

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This developed as the Supreme Court deferred action on Marcos’ petition to stop the probe and free six Ilocos Norte provincial officials already detained at the Batasan for resisting lawmakers’ questioning, with three magistrates including the Chief Justice inhibiting themselves from the case.

In an exclusive story that came out Tuesday, Marcos told The Manila Times “yellow” forces of the erstwhile ruling Liberal Party (LP) were “dangling” P100 million among House members to make sure she is detained along with the six provincial officials.

Pimentel called Marcos’ claim a “blatant lie.”

“I am denying that we are being paid for such (detention of Marcos). That is a blatant lie. The LP is not even involved in this inquiry. This is an inquiry made by the House [as an institution],” Pimentel, a member of President Rodrigo Duterte’s PDP-Laban party, told reporters.

“If she can prove her allegations, I will resign as chairman of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability,” he added.

Also on Tuesday, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, who sought the probe, dismissed allegations made by Marcos that his son, youth council chief Rudys Caesar of Brgy. 35-A Barit, as well as two village chiefs who are his relatives, Mary Michelle Fariñas of Brgy 55-C Vira and Jeff Ericson Fariñas of Brgy. La Paz, requested the purchase of motor vehicles.

Fariñas argued that while his son and relatives requested motor vehicles for their constituents, they did not ask for cash advances from the provincial government and the use of tobacco excise tax funds.

SC defers ruling

The Supreme Court (SC) en banc deferred action on the petition of Marcos and the six detained officials of the Ilocos Norte provincial government after three justices recusing themselves from the case.

Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, to whom the case was raffled, recused. Peralta, who is from the Ilocos region, administered the oath of office to the governor’s mother, former first lady Imelda Marcos, and brother Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., as Ilocos Norte congresswoman and senator, respectively, in 2010. The magistrate is also said to be a distant relative of Fariñas.

The case will be raffled off anew to another justice.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and newly appointed Justice Andres Reyes Jr. also inhibited themselves from the case.

Sereno herself went to Court of Appeals justices to discuss the case after three justices of the appellate court issued a writ of habeas corpus against the House of Representatives to free the so-called “Ilocos 6.” Reyes was then presiding justice of the appeals court.

With  JOMAR CANLAS

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