MANILA - Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos denied Wednesday that she brought former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile as her lawyer during her appearance before a Lower House committee hearing to intimidate lawmakers.
Enrile, who served as defense minister during the Marcos administration, was the embattled governor's legal counsel in her first attendance to the House of Representatives Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability probe on the alleged misuse of provincial excise tax funds.
The governor's mother, former First Lady and Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, was also present during the hearing.
"Si JPE, last minute eh. Nagkakalampagan. Somebody said, ‘Did you consult na si Manong Johnny?’ Tapos tinawagan ko and he said, ‘O, sama ako.’ Ganunan lang dahil last minute. Hindi ko nga naisip and I figured there’s nobody who knows these things better," Marcos told ANC's Headstart.
"Hindi naman pang-intimidating factor," she added.
Marcos explained that former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza, who is representing the 6 detained Ilocos Norte officials in the case before the Court of Appeals, "didn't want to come" to the House hearing.
"He didn’t want to come. He said hanggang korte lang siya, and that Congress is way beyond legal," she said.
The committee’s probe centers on the alleged misuse of tobacco excise taxes amounting to P66.5-million in the purchase of mini trucks, mini cabs, and second-hand buses in 2011.
Marcos earlier said she was hesitant to appear before lawmakers due to fears that she may be detained along with 6 other provincial staff members who were detained last May 29 for supposedly giving dismissive answers during the House hearing.
Marcos, who skipped the first 2 hearings of the investigation, has condemned the Ilocos Six's detention as "early politicking" and said the underlying motive behind the inquiry is House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas' desire to dominate local politics.
Ilocos Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas later moved for the release of the so-called Ilocos 6 after the officials "regained their memory" and spoke the truth during the House panel probe.