The Philippine House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability has ordered the release of the so-called “Ilocos six” government officials from detention on Tuesday, July 25.
House Majority floor leader Rudy Fariñas, who is also the Ilocos Norte representative, ordered the release of the officials after they answered the panel’s questions during the House inquiry into the P66.45 million-worth tobacco excise tax anomaly.
The six provincial officials have been detained since May 29 for their “dismissive answers” during an investigation into the alleged illegal purchase of motor vehicles by the Ilocos Norte Provincial office using the tobacco excise tax.
They were provincial planning and development officer and bids and awards committee chair Pedro Agcaoili, provincial budget officer Evangeline Tabulog, provincial treasurer Josephine Calajate, accountant Eden Battulayan, and treasury office staff Genedine Jambaro and Encarnacion Gaor.
Earlier on the same day, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos attended the House panel’s hearing into the alleged anomaly.
This was after the House panel issued a subpoena against her, warning that she will be detained for contempt if she did not attend the Tuesday’s hearing.
The panel issued the subpoena after Marcos skipped previous hearings, where she was invited to explain her knowledge in connection with the issue.
“Pagkakataon na rin para magsalita (It’s now time to speak),” Marcos told reporters in a chance interview.
During the hearing, the governor maintained her innocence in connection with the issue.
“Walang korapsyon at katiwalian sa pagbili ng pamahalaan ng Ilocos Norte sa minitruck. Walang kickback o ghost purchase (There was no corruption or anomaly in the Ilocos Norte government’s purchase of minitrucks. There was no kickback or ghost purchase),” Marcos insisted.
The House panel’s next hearing into the alleged misuse of tobacco funds is slated on Wednesday, August 9. n