House readies detention chamber for Imee Marcos

MANILA-- Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, chairman of the House committee on good government and public accountability, on Tuesday announced that the detention chamber for Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos is now being readied.

In a statement, Pimentel said the arrest and detention of Marcos will be sure as the sun rising tomorrow if the latter continues to snub the fourth House hearing into the alleged irregular procurement of PHP66.45 million worth of vehicles by the Ilocos Norte government set on July 25.

Pimentel made the statement following Marcos' remark that she would stay away from the July 25 hearing upon the advice of her younger brother, former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

"We had the chamber prepared right after Governor Marcos publicly declared that she will dodge our July 25 hearing, despite our subpoena and show cause order compelling her to explain satisfactorily why she should not be held in contempt for her brazen defiance," Pimentel said.

"She'll be okay in detention, though she might miss certain luxuries, considering the high life she's accustomed to," Pimentel said.

Marcos was subpoenaed last month to attend the fourth hearing on July 25 after she repeatedly snubbed the House panel's invitations.

Pimentel said his committee may issue the warrant for the governor's arrest "the day of the hearing, as soon as we've ascertained she's not around to bear witness."

"The governor has already tried to explain in media interviews where the money went, how it was spent, and so on. Why can't she just dutifully show up at our hearing, hand in the documents that her staff couldn't produce, recount her remarks under oath, and submit herself to a proper cross-examination by the committee?," he added.

The committee on good government and public accountability has been conducting an investigation into the provincial government's alleged misuse of tobacco excise funds amounting to PHP66.45 million.

Six provincial government officials have been in House detention since May 29 after they were held in contempt for giving "evasive answers".

The six Ilocos Norte officials currently detained at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City are provincial treasurer Josephine Calajate; provincial budget officer Evangeline Tabulog; provincial planning and development office chair Pedro Agcaoili; and Provincial Treasurer's Office employees Genedine Jambaro, Encarnacion Gaor, and Eden Battulayan.

The mode used in the purchase of vehicles was through cash advances, using the province's share from excise taxes derived from locally produced cigarettes or the special support fund under Republic Act No.7171.

Under RA 7171, the 15 percent share of Virginia tobacco producing provinces shall be allotted for livelihood projects and infrastructure projects as a special support for tobacco farmers.

Pimentel's committee called for an emergency hearing on June 20 to give the detained provincial officials another chance to tell all on the alleged fund misapplication. However, the so-called Ilocos 6 still refused to take questions without the presence of their preferred legal counsel.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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