LAOAG CITY —Capitol employees and residents here watching the live telecast of a House hearing on the alleged misuse of tobacco funds in Ilocos Norte were elated as the House panel finally released six employees of the Ilocos Norte government on Tuesday.
Since May 29, Pedro Agacaoili, chairman of the office’s Bids and Awards Committee and head of the provincial and planning development office; Josephine Calajate, provincial treasurer; Eden Battulayan, acting accountant; Evangeline Tabulog, provincial budget officer; and two cashiers Genedine Jambaro and Encarnacion Gaor were detained at the Office of the Sergeant at Arms in Congress.
Dubbed as ‘Ilocos 6’, they were cited in contempt for failure to respond convincingly to the questions of the members of the House Committee on Good Government and Accountability.
After a hearing attended by Ilocos Norte Gov. Ma. Imelda Josefa Marcos along with provincial and municipal officials including farmers group associations and government volunteer workers, House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of the first district of Ilocos Norte who initiated the House probe motioned the release of the Ilocos 6.
Now that the detained Capitol employees “regained their memories”, Fariñas said the Ilocos Six could have been released earlier if only they immediately admitted in the beginning the transactions made about the purchase of the controversial motor vehicles in 2011 and 2012.
During the hearing, Marcos clarified the provincial government purchased the said vehicles through direct contracting with only one bidder who complied with the requirements.
She insisted these were not ghost projects or overpriced as being accused by Fariñas. It also served the best interest of farmers.
In Ilocos Norte, the Provincial Communication and Media Office led by Jun Arvin Gudoy said “the province is elated and very, very happy that our co-employees and mentors here at the Capitol are finally sent home to their own families.”
According to Gudoy, lots of government transactions have long been delayed because of the absence of the key personnel of the provincial government.
“We are grateful for all the support to our governor because under her leadership, we have seen a lot of progress happening in the province but due to what happened, some projects and programs have to be halted. Hopefully, we can see the end of it and we can focus our energies to more productive matters for a better province,” Gudoy said.
The House inquiry in aid of legislation stemmed from an issue brought up by House majority floor leader Rodolfo Farinas, accusing the provincial government under the Marcos administration of engaging in anomalous transactions particularly in the purchase of 70 Fotton mini trucks, 40 mini-cabs and 5 secondhand buses worth Php 66,450,000 from the tobacco excise tax share of Ilocos Norte. LGA/PNA-northboundasia.com