Imee Marcos retracts P100-M bribe claim

MANILA-- Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos on Tuesday withdrew her previous accusation that an alleged PHP100 million bribe is being circulated among lawmakers at the House of Representatives who will ensure her detention.

Marcos retracted her accusation before the House committee on good government and public accountability inquiry on the provincial government's alleged anomalous purchase of motor vehicles worth PHP66.45 million using tobacco excise taxes.

During the inquiry, Majority Leader Rodolfo FariAas asked Marcos who her source was for her claim that a PHP100-million fund was being offered by the Liberal Party, or the so-called yellow forces, to lawmakers who will detain her for her alleged misuse of PHP66.45 million in tobacco excise taxes.

Marcos refused to reveal her source amid FariAas' prodding.

"I would like to apologize to congressmen if this offensive na may bayaran subalit may consent din ako ng tao at ayaw niya ibigay (at) na wag sabihin," Marcos said.

FariAas threatened to cite Marcos in contempt if she refused to divulge her source as the accusation attacks Congress as an institution through an unnamed source and casts aspersion to lawmakers.

"I plead to you since you are not the source itself Sino po yung nagsabi sayo na may 100 million pesos na binabayad para kayo ay ipakulong," FariAas said.

Marcos, upon conferring with her legal counsel, withdrew her accusation of a PHP100 million bribe try allegedly dangled before lawmakers.

"I apologize and withdraw my statement of my mere suspicion and given that the source is uncertain I withdraw the accusation for the integrity and honor of the House that a hundred million (pesos) circulated," Marcos said.

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.

The purchased vehicles of the provincial government consisted of 40 units of minicabs, five units of buses, and 70 units of Foton Mini Trucks, totaling PHP66.4 million.

The first check was issued on Dec. 1, 2011 in the amount of PHP18.6 million. Then on May 25, 2012, another check was issued amounting to PHP15.3 million which was followed by another check issued on Sept. 12, 2012 in the amount of P32.5 million.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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