MANILA, Philippines — Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos asked the Supreme Court Thursday for a writ of amparo in favor of six provincial employees detained at the House of Representatives since late May for refusing to cooperate with an inquiry into the allegedly anomalous purchase of P66.45 million in government vehicles.
At the same time, Marcos, who the House has also threatened with arrest if she refuses to honor a subpoena to appear at the July 25 hearing into the allegedly anomaly, hinted she may indeed, defy the order.
Appearing at a press conference in Manila, the governor said they have been left with no other recourse but the Supreme Court after exhausting all other legal means to seek the release of the provincial planning and development officer Pedro Agcaoili, provincial budget officer Evangeline Tabulog, provincial treasurer Josephine Calajate, accountant Eden Battulayan, and treasury office staff members Genedine Jambaro and Encarnacion Gaor, who are also known as the “Ilocos 6.”
“Huwag sana kami papalag ang ating mga justices dahil sila ang huli at kataas-taasan na hukuman (We hope the justices will not balk because they are the last and highest court),” Marcos said.
The row over the Ilocos 6 has also pitted the House against the Court of Appeals after the chamber, reacting to a writ of habeas corpus issued by the court, issued a show cause order for the justices to explain why they should not be cited for contempt.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez claims the appellate court has no jurisdiction over the Congress and has threatened to dissolve it and disbar the justices handling the Ilocos 6 case.
Marcos said the continued detention of the six has already affected the financial operations of the provincial government.
On the other hand, while insisting “I want to talk” and “tell our story dahil wala naman tayo tinatago (we have nothing to hide),” Marcos claimed she has been receiving advice to “boycott” the proceedings “kasi iipitin ka. Hindi ka lang nahusgahan, dali-dali ka ding ikukulong. … Hindi kasi pantay ang laban sa Kongreso (because they will persecute you. You will not only be judged, they will move to quickly detain you. The fight is not fair in Congress).”
She also called out House Minority Leader Rodolfo Farinas for dragging their local rift into Congress and described the detention of the Ilocos 6 as a “hostage crisis.”
“Local politics lang ang pinagmulan nito. Kinalakad ito sa Kongreso… (This all stems from local politics. But this was dragged to Congress),” she said as she challenged him to settle their differences in Ilocos Norte and challenge her for the post if he wants to.
She said when he was governor, Fariñas was also charged before the Sandiganbayan over allegations of using the tobacco excise tax to purchase luxury jeeps and using disaster funds to purchase speedboats.
Marcos lashed at the House of Representative, saying its mandate is to conduct “investigation(s) in aid of legislation, not in aid of persecution of political opponents,” and maintained that the purchase of the vehicles with the tobacco funds was justified since these were used to transport farmers’ goods to markets.
She also presented the Commission on Audit report on the province’s use of its share from tobacco excise taxes, reiterating that bidding processes were followed in the purchase of the vehicles.