A party-list lawmaker on Thursday said he will ask the governor of Ilocos Norte to explain before the House of Representatives the “irregular” cash advances, amounting to P66.45 million, for the procurement of 115 units of various types of vehicles using excise taxes from locally produced Virginia-type cigarettes when a House probe focused on the fund-diversion case resumes on July 25.
Party-list Rep. Enrico Pineda of 1-Pacman said Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos allegedly authorized in 2011 and 2012 such spending using funds from the province’s share in excise taxes from locally produced Virginia-type cigarettes.
This developed as the camp of Marcos and the six Ilocos Norte officials, collectively known as Ilocos 6, have urged the Supreme Court (SC) to immediately act on their petition seeking the issuance of a writ of amparo to protect their constitutional rights.
Lawyer Vicentito Lazo, one of the counsels for Marcos and the Ilocos 6, said the High Court should not allow itself to be bullied by lawmakers, who have earlier threatened to issue a show-cause order against three Court of Appeals justices who ruled that the detained officials must be released immediately.
“Under the rules of the Supreme Court, the writ of amparo should be issued immediately if, upon its face, there is a ground for its issuance. Unfortunately, the justice in charge and two others have inhibited from the case, so no action has been taken on our petition,” Lazo said.
The petition for a writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act, or omission of a public official or employee or of a private individual or entity.
Pineda added, “[Marcos] alone can explain the mysterious disappearance of all documents pertaining to this questionable diversion of funds that should have been used exclusively for the welfare of tobacco farmers.”
Marcos’s signatures, he said, were on most of the documents pertaining to the cash advances made to procure five secondhand buses, 70 minitrucks and 40 multicabs—from the purchase requests to the obligation requests for the funds, and even the disbursement vouchers.
“Only Gov. Imee Marcos can solve the mystery behind the documents that have all gone missing after such irregular purchases were uncovered,” Pineda said. “Her stamp of approval [were] in almost all of the documents related to these questionable transactions, so who else can best explain the paper trail behind them?”
A subpoena has already been issued to Marcos to compel her to attend the hearing.
Six provincial executives have been detained at the lower chamber since May 29 “for their contemptuous act of giving evasive answer, tantamount to refusal to answer” questions about the money meant for the benefit of tobacco farmers, but supposedly misused as cash advances for the purchase of motor vehicles sans the benefit of public bidding.
These six Ilocos Norte provincial officials currently detained at the Batasan complex are Josephine Calajate, Ilocos Norte provincial treasurer; Encarnacion Gaor and Genedine Jambaro, both working at the Provincial Treasurer’s Office; Evangeline Tabulog, the provincial budget officer; Eden Battulayan, officer in charge-accountant; and Pedro Agcaoili, the chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee and the Provincial Planning and Development Office.
Under Republic Act 7171, the share of provinces from the taxes should only be used for certain projects that will promote the welfare of tobacco farmers.