MANILA - A congressman on Tuesday reiterated his warning to Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos that she faces detention at the Batasang Pambansa if she skips the next hearing on the alleged misuse of provincial cigarette excise taxes.
House Committee on Good Government chairman Johnny Pimentel said they had the chamber prepared to accommodate Marcos' detention after she publicly stated last week that she is skipping the hearing upon the advise of her brother, former senator Bongbong Marcos, and mother, Ilocos Norte congresswoman Imelda Marcos.
This, he said, despite a subpoena from the House of Representatives and a show cause order compelling her to explain satisfactorily why she should not be held in contempt for her "brazen defiance.”
"She’ll be okay in detention, though she might miss certain luxuries, considering the high life she’s accustomed to,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel’s committee is investigating the provincial government’s alleged misappropriation of P66.45 million in public funds representing Ilocos Norte’s share of excise tax collections from locally manufactured Virginia type cigarettes.
Six provincial executives have been detained at the House since May 29 “for their contemptuous act of giving evasive answers, 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 without the benefit of competitive public bidding.
After repeatedly snubbing the panel’s prior invitations for her to testify on the matter, Marcos was finally subpoenaed to the fourth hearing on July 25.
Last June 23, the governor said that upon the recommendation of her younger brother, former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., she will stay away from the July 25 hearing.
“I want to explain myself in Congress but others said I should not.
Bongbong told me I could also be detained,” she said.
On Marcos’s fears that she might be detained if she showed up at the hearing, Pimentel had this to say: “Well, if she does not show up, her arrest and detention is as sure as the sun rising tomorrow."
Pimentel said his panel 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.”
He added: “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?”
The investigation was prompted by a resolution filed by Marcos' provincial political rival, House Majority Leader, Rodolfo Fariñas, who represents Ilocos Norte's first district.