MANILA- House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability Chair Johnny Pimentel on Tuesday clarified that legislators are not trying to intimidate Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos into attending the July 25 hearing on the alleged misuse of tobacco excise funds.
Pimentel made the clarification after his committee showed journalists on Monday the detention rooms it prepared for Marcos and three Court of Appeals (CA) justices should they be held by the legislature.
"We will be following the proper procedure. Ano po ba kinatatakot ni Gov. Imee? 'Di naman namin siya ikukulong. 'Yung pagpakita ng detention room is just hypothetical in nature," he said.
Pimentel clarified that the detention rooms were only shown at the request of the media.
On Sunday, a news report quoted Marcos as saying that she will cooperate in the inquiry "on the faith that the committee would conduct its current inquiry in accordance with the letter and spirit of Sec. 21, Art. VI of the Constitution—that the inquiry is in aid of legislation and that the rights of persons appearing therein are protected."
The Ilocos Norte governor is being probed for the allegedly anomalous purchase of vehicles worth P66.45 million using tobacco excise tax funds without the required public bidding.
The probe was initiated by Marcos' political rival in Ilocos Norte, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas.
The House has detained Marcos' six provincial officials for failing to answer questions on the transaction.
Under House rules, disobeying a subpoena to attend a hearing could get an individual cited for contempt, which carries a penalty of detention.
Three appellate court justices, however, granted on June 9 a habeas corpus petition filed by the six detained officials, ordering the legislature to release them.
The House has defied the CA's order, maintaining that lawmakers' power of contempt is not subject to judicial review.
Pimentel said his committee has not yet issued a show cause order against CA justices Stephen Cruz, Nina Valenzuela and Edwin Sorongon after they issued the release order.
Pimentel said legislators are waiting for Cruz's and Valenzuela's decision on motions seeking their inhibition from the case.
A show cause order is issued to anyone who may be held in contempt by Congress.