Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos on Tuesday admitted before a congressional inquiry that the purchase of 70 mini trucks by the provincial government did not undergo the bidding process.
"Yung 2 transactions, direct contracting. Direct contracting is something that the BAC (Bids and Awards Committee) recommended that we had to resort to because there was only a single supplier that can comply with the requirements," Marcos told lawmakers during the congressional probe on the alleged misuse of tobacco excise taxes.
Marcos said only Foton had brand new, diesel-powered mini-trucks with the right specifications requested by farmer-beneficiaries.
"Ang pinaka importante, walang nawawalang pera ng gobyerno, nabayaran ang supplier, napakinabangan yung mga binili," she said.
The House of Representatives Committee on Good Government has issued a subpoena for Marcos on the alleged misuse of her province's shares from the excise taxes on locally manufactured Virginia-type cigarettes.
The probe, initiated by Ilocos Norte representative and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas, alleged that the funds were used in "highly irregular purchase of motor vehicles made through cash advances without the benefit of public bidding for the total amount of P66.45 million."
Committee chairman Johnny Pimentel said records should prove that there was a failed bidding before the government can resort to direct contracting.
"The abstract of bid, BAC resolution, notice of award, notice to proceed, 'yung mga requirements to make it appear na dumaan ng bidding is lacking. Wala ngang bidding na nangyari," Pimentel said.
Marcos said she neither received nor signed the Commission on Audit's audit observation memorandum that underscored the supposed lapses in the transactions.
The governor has said the underlying motive behind the inquiry is Fariñas' desire to dominate local politics.
In 2019, Imee Marcos and Fariñas will be constitutionally barred from seeking reelection in their current offices, leaving them to pursue other positions or members of their families to pursue their current positions. Fariñas' daughter Ria and Marcos’ son Matthew are incumbent provincial board members and rumored to be possible gubernatorial candidates.