Marcos to Farinas: Bring battle
over tobacco fund back to Ilocos Norte

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ILOCOS Norte Governor Imee Marcos has once again urged her family’s ally-turned-nemesis, Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, to bring back the battle over the P66-million tobacco fund to their home province instead of turning it into a national “embarrassment”.

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“The battle in Congress is not fair. The one who accused you will be the one to investigate, will be the one to rule out decision and in the end, will be the one to put you in jail. That’s the same thing, I think that is not good,” Marcos told a forum in Quezon City, referring to Fariñas, majority floor leader of the House of Representatives.

“Kung isyu ito sa Ilocos Norte, bakbakan na lang sa amin kasi nakakahiya itong kinakaladkad pa sa Kongreso,” said Marcos.

(If this is an issue in Ilocos Norte, let’s just have this fight in our place because it is already embarrassing that they will draw this in Congress.) she added.

The former congresswoman also criticized the House for conducting “unfair trials”.

In the same forum, Ilocos Norte Vice Gov. Angelo Barba said that the provincial government was facing stockpile of problems as the local finance committee was currently detained at the Batasang Pambansa.

Among the delays, according to Barba, are the distribution of the budget for medicines to local hospitals and clinics and the gasoline budget for patrolling policemen in the area, saying the signatories were in jail.

“Our provincial government is already in need [of financial managers]since our local finance committee are now detained in Congress and most [of the problems in Ilocos Norte]are in the hospitals, the medicines’ budget will be signed no less than them,” Barba said.

“Let just hope that this stops because this is just all about politics, it is too much politics, and since this [problem]is only confined in the First District [of Ilocos Norte], let’s just talk and resolve this in a right manner,” he added.

Marcos has asked the Court of Appeals (CA) to order the House leadership to release the six provincial employees whom it has detained because they refused to testify on the alleged misuse of P66 million in tobacco funds involving the purchase of motor vehicles.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has defied the appellate court’s order and even threatened its abolition, noting that its existence was dependent on Congress.

The next congressional hearing on the tobacco fund controversy will be on July 25 or the day after President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his second State of the Nation Address in Batasang Pambansa..

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