Ilocos Norte Capitol Express temporarily suspended


LAOAG CITY — Operation of a roving one-stop-shop, Capitol Express, has been temporarily suspended due to the tension between Ilocos Norte Governor Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” Marcos and Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas of the province’s first district.

Capitol Express is a special program of the Marcos administration, bringing in government services to the barangays or villages.

Its operation is a whole-day activity participated in by front line departments of the Provincial Capitol which include distribution of fertilizers, pesticides, fruit-bearing seedlings and other agricultural products and equipment.

Clients also avail of free medical services and legal consultations, among others.

Upon request, the Capitol Express team also provides livelihood and financial assistance while conducting open forums to gather feedback or suggestions from concerned residents.

However, as four Capitol department heads namely: Pedro Agacaoili, chairman of the office’s Bids and Awards Committee and head of the provincial and planning development office; Josephine Calajate, provincial treasurer; Edna Battulayan, accountant; Evangeline Tabulog, provincial budget officer and two cashiers, Genedine Jambaro and Encarnacion Gaor of the Ilocos Norte government, were cited in contempt and detained at the House of Representatives since May 29 or more than a month now, some transactions of the provincial government have been suspended.

The House inquiry in aid of legislation stemmed from an issue brought up by the House Majority Floor Leader, accusing the provincial government of engaging in anomalous transactions particularly in the purchase of 70 mini trucks, 40 mini-cabs and five secondhand buses worth Php 66,450,000 from the tobacco excise tax share of Ilocos Norte in 2012.

With the issuance of subpoena, the governor is expected to show up in the next hearing as the House of Representatives resumes session on July 26.

Residents here, meanwhile, have expressed dismay over the ongoing feud between Marcos and Fariñas.

“What is happening to our elected leaders? This is a big shame for Ilocos Norte. If they want to investigate, they should investigate all local government units, all tobacco-producing provinces and tell me, who did it right?” said Marilyn Ramos of Bacarra town.

“Why are they investigating only now? Is it because their term (of office) is ending and they want to advance their political career?,” asked Jennifer Corpuz.

“I believe it is just a propaganda against the Marcoses. Governor Imee is the best governor we have. I don’t think she would do permit that,” said Romeo Abucay, an assistant professor III of state-run Mariano Marcos State University in Batac City.

Florante Nicolas, a former employee of the provincial government, said, “setting aside political vendetta, which is really obvious, why it seems to be so hard for them to speak of truth on matters of procedures if the transactions they have entered into really went through the regular course of business?”

Referring to the allegations as matters of law, Shermon Cruz of San Nicolas town said, “they must respond and reply to the questions asked of them and recommend that they should not resort to dodging and evading legitimate questions of malfeasance and misfeasance of public funds.”

For the interest of the public, Cruz said these employees must explain how the special support fund was utilized, how the cash advances were made and not through public bidding as prescribed by law including the safekeeping and preservation of records as mandated by audit rules. Leilanie Adriano/