SC orders Fariñas, 2 others to comment on Imee, Ilocos 6 omnibus petition

SC orders Fariñas, 2 others to comment on Imee, Ilocos 6 omnibus petition

MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) ordered the House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte (1st District) Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas and two others to answer the petition filed by Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and the six provincial officials to stop the congressional probe on the alleged misuse of PHP66.45 million tobacco funds.

Aside from Fariñas, the magistrates ordered House Committee on good government and public accountability chair and Surigao del Sur (2nd District) Rep. Johnny Pimentel and House sergeant-at-arms Roland Detabal to answer the omnibus petition.

”The Court directed respondents to comment on the Omnibus Petition within a non-extendible period of 10 days from notice of resolution,” SC spokesman Theodore Te told reporters on Tuesday.

When asked what would happen to the case since the Ilocos 6 had been released on Tuesday, Te told reproters it is now “up to the parties.”

The House committee on good government and public accountability ordered the release of the six Ilocos Norte provincial government officials, or the so-called “Ilocos 6”.

This after the House panel approved the motion of Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas to lift the contempt order issued to the six Ilocos Norte officials, who finally responded to the questions asked by lawmakers regarding the anomalous purchase of motor vehicles using excise taxes.

Sought for a comment, Governor Marcos said that writ of amparo against the House Committee will still pursue the case despite the release of the Ilocos Norte officials who were detained at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City include provincial treasurer Josephine Calajate; provincial budget officer Evangeline Tabulog; provincial planning and development office chair Pedro Agcaoili; and Provincial Treasurer’s Office employees Genedine Jambaro, Encarnacion Gaor, and Eden Battulayan.

”Yes the lawyers have enjoined me to pursue it pero ang mamu-moot lang dun yung habeas corpus,” Marcos told reporters in a forum Kapihan sa Manila Bay.

In their 67-page omnibus petition filed last July 13, the petitioners asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the investigation of the House committee on good government and also asked SC to order the release of the six provincial officials and assume jurisdiction on the writ of habeas corpus case pending before the Court of Appeals (CA), who earlier ordered for their release but was ignored by the House body.

Aside from this, the petitioners asked the Court to issue a writ of amparo against the said House Committee in order “to protect the actual and threatened violations and infringement of their constitutionally-guaranteed rights to liberty and security of person.”

The committee on good government and public accountability has been conducting an investigation into the provincial government’s alleged misuse of tobacco excise funds amounting to PHP66.45 million.

Six provincial government officials have been in House detention since May 29 after they were held in contempt for giving “evasive answers”.

They elevated the case to the High Tribunal after the House repeatedly and deliberately defied the order of the CA special fourth division for their release.

The committee on good government and public accountability has been conducting an investigation into the provincial government’s alleged misuse of tobacco excise funds amounting to PHP66.45 million.

Six provincial government officials have been in House detention since May 29 after they were held in contempt for giving “evasive answers”.

The mode used in the purchase of vehicles was through cash advances, using the province’s share from excise taxes derived from locally produced cigarettes or the special support fund under Republic Act No. 7171.

Under RA 7171, the 15 percent share of Virginia tobacco-producing provinces shall be allotted for livelihood projects and infrastructure projects as a special support for tobacco farmers.

The purchased vehicles of the provincial government consisted of 40 units of minicabs, five units of buses, and 70 units of Foton Mini Trucks, totaling PHP66.4 million.

The first check was issued on Dec. 1, 2011 in the amount of PHP18.6 million. Then on May 25, 2012, another check was issued amounting to PHP15.3 million which was followed by another check issued on Sept. 12, 2012 in the amount of P32.5 million. with Vanessa Panesa (OJT)/PNA