MANILA - The House Committee on Good Government announced Monday that it will file criminal charges against Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and her longtime boyfriend in connection with the alleged misuse of P66.4 million in tobacco excise tax.
Panel chairman Johnny Pimentel said Marcos had used the tobacco excise taxes to purchase 40 mini-cabs, 5 second-hand buses and 70 Foton mini-trucks in 2011 and 2012, even though the funds could only be used for livelihood and infrastructure projects benefiting tobacco farmers.
Mark Chua, a Singapore-based businessman and Marcos' longtime partner, had been named by Granstar Motors and Industrial Corporation president Fabian Go as the man he transacted with in the vehicle deal.
Pimentel said his committee's ongoing investigation also found that the trucks were overpriced at P195,000 each and were purchased without undergoing bidding.
The Ilocos Norte government had also purchased P56 million worth of fertilizer without prior bidding, added Pimentel.
"We have already established there is a highly anomalous transactions made by the province of Ilocos Norte which is very disadvantageous to the government," he said.
Pimentel said Marcos and other local officials violated the Government Procurement Reform Act; Republic Act 7171, which imposed tax on cigarettes states; and a Commission on Audit memorandum that ordered the immediate settling of unliquidated cash advance.
Marcos earlier defended the lack of bidding, saying that only Foton had new, diesel-powered mini-trucks with the specifications requested by farmer-beneficiaries.
She also said she neither received nor signed the COA audit observation memorandum that underscored the supposed lapses in the transactions.
The governor has said the underlying motive behind the inquiry is the desire of Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas to dominate local politics.
Chua meanwhile has skipped the House investigation and left the country last July, said Pimentel.
"We will cite him for contempt. Subsequently, a warrant of arrest will be issued, he will be a fugitive. 'Pag tumapak siya sa lupa ng Pilipinas it is incumbent upon us to arrest him and bring him to attend the hearings," the congressman said.
"Once we issue the warrant of arrest we will seek intervention from the Singaporean government."
With Robert Mano and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News