LAOAG, Ilocos Norte: Gov. Imee Marcos said there were no ghost projects in connection with her use of tobacco funds, a subject of investigation by the House of Representatives, pointing out that the lawmaker behind the probe, Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas was with her during the distribution of the vehicles purchased using the special fund.
On social networking site Facebook, Marcos posted photos of herself and Fariñas distributing the vehicles in question.
“They are telling me that the distribution of the vehicles are not allowed but what is very clear is that it is allowed in Republic Act (RA) 7171 and in RA 10351, which restructures the alcohol and tobacco excise tax with amendments since the vehicles are intended to transport agricultural products,” the Ilocos Norte governor said.
She said there were complete Annual Investment Programs, project statements, provincial board ordinances, and requests from farmers and village captains supporting the purchase of motor vehicles, which was then fully liquidated with the Commission on Audit (COA).
“There are none which were not liquidated, which means there are no ghost projects,” Marcos said.
“If you come to Ilocos Norte, you will see the 110 mini-trucks all accounted for benefiting our farmers,” she said.
Fariñas, the House majority leader, admitted to distributing the motor vehicles in question with Marcos but denied any knowledge that they were purchased illegally.
“Yes, I was invited during the distribution and I can attest that they were given to barangay (village) captains. I had no idea or information that tobacco funds were used to purchase them, [it was done]through cash advances, there was no public bidding and each motor vehicle [shown in the photos]were worth P465,000 which would have shocked me,” he told reporters.
Fariñas filed House Resolution 882 that jumpstarted the congressional inquiry on the use of P66 million worth of tobacco excise tax funds for motor vehicles, allegedly in defiance of existing laws of the Ilocos Norte provincial government.
Marcos has refused to attend the congressional inquiry, the three times she has been summoned. Facing arrest, she has sought the intervention of the Supreme Court.
Six provincial government officials have been detained at the House since May 29 after they were cited in contempt by lawmakers for refusing to confirm the transactions.
Fariñas argued that he distributed “multicabs” to the villages under his district at the right prices.
“Pickups [given in my district]like those shown in the pictures being distributed [were priced]at P180,000 each, while pickups with canopy for its bed were worth P200,000 [each],” Fariñas pointed out. The pickups with canopy (with glass windows) were worth P250,000 each.
“Please canvass around for the prices of such multicabs. Thanks,” Fariñas said.
with LLANESCA T. PANTI