A P100-million fund from the “yellow” forces is being dangled before lawmakers to ensure that Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos will be detained over her alleged misuse of more than P66 million in tobacco excise taxes.
Marcos herself made the allegation in an exclusive phone interview with The Manila Times, citing a reliable source who told her that the fund will be distributed if she boycotted a hearing of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability on July 25. The panel is investigating the alleged use of P66.45 million in excise taxes to buy motor vehicles under Marcos’ watch.
Some lawmakers have warned that the governor will be cited for contempt if she will not show up on July 25.
Last week, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel showed members of the media the detention cell being readied for Marcos.
The House of Representatives had detained for more than two months six employees of the provincial government for refusing to discuss the purchase of vehicles.
Last week, Marcos asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the case by assuming jurisdiction over a petition for habeas corpus pending at the Court of Appeals.
The employees were cited in contempt for refusing to answer questions from the Pimentel panel, saying they cannot do so since the queries were based on photocopies of documents used in the procurement of the vehicles.
The probe was initiated by Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, a former ally of the Marcoses.
Marcos noted that Fariñas used to be a member of the Liberal Party (LP). When Rodrigo Duterte, however, assumed the presidency last year, he joined the ruling PDP-Laban party.
The governor said she sees a wider “conspiracy” not only against her over the allegedly anomalous vehicle purchase but the entire Marcos family over entirely unrelated issues.
“They are also planning to drag my mother [Leyte Rep. Imelda Romualdez-Marcos] in a human-rights case wherein she had been cleared of wrongdoing. Hindi ko na nga matandaan kung kelan natapos yung kaso na ‘yun laban sa nanay ko [I cannot even remember when that case was resolved in my mom’s favor],” according to Marcos.
By “they,” she said she was referring to groups allied with the Aquino camp now led by former President Benigno Aquino 3rd, who, the governor added, is bent on stopping her brother, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., from becoming President.
The former senator has a pending poll protest against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo over alleged fraud committed by the Robredo camp and the Liberal Party that backed her up in the May 2016 elections.
Imee said the “yellow” forces are behind the rumors that the President is sick, whose supposedly poor state of health gives “Bongbong” a clear shot at the presidency, that is, if he wins his election protest against Robredo.
When asked if she planned to show at the House hearing next week, the Ilocos Norte governor said she would, but depending on the advice of her lawyers led by former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza.
On Monday, Rep. Rey Umali said the High Court should dismiss Marcos’ petition.
The head of the justice panel said rules on congressional inquiries are a matter of political question and are beyond judicial review.
“I urge the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) which is representing Congress here, to file a motion [to dismiss], especially that this involves corruption. The Supreme Court should dismiss this [Marcos’ petition] outright because this is a violation of the rules of procedure, the House’s internal rules and the Constitution,” Umali said.
The Court of Appeals had ordered the release of the six provincial personnel but it was defied by the House.
“This (Supreme Court) petition is prostituting the Constitution and a manipulation of the judicial system. Our law is clear: He or she who comes to court must come with clean hands. You cannot seek judicial relief if your hands are unclean,” Umali said.
Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin of AAMBIS-OWWA party-list said Marcos cannot ask the SC to intervene when the motor vehicles purchased using the tobacco fund were unregistered.
“Governor Marcos can answer the numerous questions behind the irregularities involving the acquisition of the vehicles since the Ilocos 6 have all suddenly forgotten about them when these happened barely five years ago,” Garin added.
WITH LLANESCA T. PANTI