MANILA – A House panel probing alleged misuse of P66 million in tobacco excise taxes has deferred issuance of a show-cause order to two Court of Appeals justices it had locked horns with for their grant of legal relief to six Ilocos Norte employees detained by Congress for failing to testify.
Rep. Johnny Pimentel, chairman of the House committee on good government and public accountability, said Tuesday the panel will first await the justices’ reply to their motion to inhibit from the case filed with the appellate court by lawyers for the so-called “Ilocos 6.”
Should the justices inhibit from the case, Pimentel said the congressmen will no longer issue a show-cause order, as they earlier threatened to do so, sparking concern from the Supreme Court and other legal organizations worried by the crisis such a development could create.
“We [will] hold the show-cause order until such time that our motion for inhibition [for] the two justices will be acted upon,” Pimentel said.
Meanwhile, he said he was pleased by reports that Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos may attend the July 25 resumption of hearing by his panel, after all. This, after the congressmen earlier showed media a spruced-up room that will be used as detention center for parties – possibly including Marcos – who will snub their committee summons or refuse to testify.
“Yes of course, we will be following the proper procedure; eh, ano po ba ang kinatatakot ni Governor Imee. Hindi namin siya ikukulong, yung pagpapakita ng detention is just hypothetical in nature, kung [What is Imee afraid of? We didn’t say we will jail her in that room; detention was hypothetical in nature–it’s an if],” Pimentel said.
He said the panel badly needed to hear Marcos testify and affirm her claim that there was no wrongdoing in the use of P66 million in the province’s share in tobacco excise taxes for vehicle purchases. “We cannot give closure until such time that we get the side of Governor Marcos.”
He stressed her appearance is meant “to answer questions,” and pleaded with her to attend on July 25 so they can wrap up the inquiry, which has pitted two of Ilocos Norte’s biggest political clans against each other: the family of the former dictator on one hand, and on the other, House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas.
Earlier, Marcos lawyer Estelito Mendoza, a former Justice secretary and solicitor general, had told a forum the governor will cooperate with the committee and attend the hearing, but on condition the committee follows the proper procedure for dealing with resource persons invited to the inquiry.