Fariñas personnel swiped orig tobacco docs, says Imee MarcosJul 17, 2017
Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos, speaking out regarding the House of Representatives' ongoing investigation into the province's alleged misuse of tobacco funds, pointed out that the original documents of the transactions involved were taken from the Commission on Audit (COA) Office inside the Provincial Capitol by a personnel of 1st District Rep. Rodolfo "Rudy" C. Fariñas.
Fariñas, known as the main political rival of Marcos in Ilocos Norte, initiated the inquiry through House Resolution No. 882. While he had campaigned and won alongside Marcos in 2010, he was removed from the latter's "One Ilocos Norte" bid in 2013.
He was also present during the 2011 and 2012 distributions of the vehicles purchased using the province's tobacco funds.
The subject of lost original documents surfaced in the third House hearing into the tobacco fund issue last May 29, when six employees of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) were cited in contempt and detained for "refusing to answer questions."
However the employees, dubbed "Ilocos Six," had only requested to see the original documents before testifying, lest they commit perjury by giving sworn statements based on possible falsified photocopied documents.
Fariñas then implied that it was the employees themselves of PGIN who had the documents lost.
Marcos said, "Tinatanong din sa'kin, bakit daw nawala? Bakit hindi masumpaan ng Ilocos Six yung mga tseke na winawagayway? Bakit wala na yung original? Unang-una, tinurn-over namin 'yan sa COA. Ang COA raw ang nakawala, at sila naman ang nag-aamin na ito nga ang nangyari.
"Subalit biglang sumulpot ang sinumpaang salaysay," she added, revealing an affidavit signed by Pedro M. Gorospe Jr., a janitor and messenger at the COA Office.
"Nagtapat [siya] na pinagdukot sa kanya ng kanyang manugang, ni Cynthia Gorospe... tao at coordinator ni Congressman Fariñas. Dinukot noong 2013. Inamin niya, 'Ako, empleyado ng Provincial Government, naka-detail sa COA, ay nanungkulan bilang janitor at messenger, at maliban sa ibang gawain, ako'y may hawak at pasok-labas sa COA.
"'Nautusan ako ni Ma'am Cynthia Gorospa na ipa-Xerox ang mga dokumento ng COA na sa aking pagkaalam ayvouchers na tatlo ang bilang. Kasama nito ay yung mga tseke,'" Marcos continued, "Ayon sa kanya, pinadukot sa kanya. Eh 'di alam na natin kung sinong dumukot noon. Papaano ko mapro-produce ang original?"
As of today, the Ilocos Six have been detained at the House Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms for 49 days or seven weeks.
Unified petition filed at SC
Legal counsels of the Ilocos Six have pursued legal remedies such as petitioning for the writ of habeas corpus and their provisional release, which were granted by the Court of Appeals, but thrice the House has defied the court order.
The House even issued a show-cause order against the CA justices who ordered the release, but they recently withdrew this in place of a motion for inhibition.
Marcos pointed out that "pati ang Korte, tinatakot. Itong pamumulitika na noon sasabihin na pupunitin lamang ang order ng Korte. Lahat ng justice, 'bobo,' wala raw alam sa batas. Sadyang hindi pinakikinggan at tinatakot pati ang Chief Justicena siya'y ii-impeach," referring to statements made by Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez against the judiciary.
Atty. Bayan Quinones, legal counsel of the Ilocos Six, shared that they had filed a unified petition at the Supreme Court.
"Ang una po ay para mag-take ng jurisdiction ng Korte ang kaso ng habeas corpus na matagal nang nakabilbil sa Court of Appeals, na napipigilan ngayon dahil sa mga pronouncement o reaction ng Komite [House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability] na sinama natin sa reklamo na ito.
"Ang pangalawa ay tinatawag nating Prohibition Program. Hinihinigi natin dito na pigilan ang hindi makatarungang pag-conduct ng kanilang imbestigasyon," saying that the House's manner of investigation "violates the Constitution in their own House Rules, and so far it's being conducted as a form of Inquisition."
"Ang pangatlo ay hinihingi namin ang isang writ of amparo dahil nakasaad dito. Ito ang nagbibigay-proteksyon sa mga naaapi ng kanilang pansariling seguridad."