‘Cruel’ for House to still detain Ilocos Norte officials – Bongbong Marcos

Mara Cepeda
‘Cruel’ for House to still detain Ilocos Norte officials – Bongbong Marcos
Former senator Bongbong Marcos says he feels sorry for the situation of the officials, claiming they are 'beginning to suffer symptoms' while in detention

MANILA, Philippines – Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr visited the 6 Ilocos Norte officials who remain in detention at the House of Representatives despite a Court of Appeals (CA) ruling ordering their provisional release. 

Marcos went to the House Legislative Building on Thursday, June 15, 17 days since the following Ilocos Norte officials were cited in contempt and detained by the House committee on good government and public accountability for giving dismissive answers in a hearing:

  • Pedro Agcaoili, Provincial Planning and Development Office chairperson
  • Josephine Calajate, provincial treasurer
  • Eden Battulayan, provincial accountant
  • Encarnacion Gaor, Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff
  • Genedine Jambaro, Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff
  • Evangeline Tabulog, provincial budget officer

“We are pursuing every legal recourse that will be available for us for them to be released. Whatever the case needs to be filed, then we will answer that in court,” said Marcos, the brother of Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos. (READ: House defies CA order to release detained Ilocos Norte officials)

“Pero in the meantime, this is cruel and unusual ang nangyayari… Hindi pinapa-serve sa [court] sheriff ‘yung order, kaya nakakaawa naman. Pinuntahan ko’t makita ko naman kasi mga tao ko ito eh,” he added.

(But in the meantime, this is a cruel and an unusual situation… The court sheriff is not being allowed to serve the order, so I pity them. I visited them because they are my people, too.)

DETENTION ROOM. Bongbong Marcos talks to the 6 Ilocos Norte officials inside their detention room. Photo from the Marcos camp

The 6 officials were detained after a May 29 committee investigation into the alleged misuse of P66.45 million in tobacco funds to buy motor vehicles. 

House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Ilocos Norte 1st District representative, had asked them to comment on purchase documents bearing their signatures, but they all said they can only comment if Fariñas can present to them the original copies. The panel then cited the officials in contempt and detained them.  

The Ilocos Norte camp has since secured a ruling from the CA Special 4th Division ordering the provisional release of the 6 officials, as long as they post bail of P30,000 each.

But the House leadership refused to release them, with Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez even calling the CA justices who granted the order “idiots.”

Bongbong Marcos claimed the 6 officials are “beginning to suffer symptoms” while in detention because they supposedly are not able to rest properly.  

He also pointed out that the officials used to work for Fariñas, who previously served as governor of Ilocos Norte.

Caught in the middle?

On Thursday, Marcos gave a letter to Alvarez from the detained Ilocos Norte officials, who are asking the House to respect the CA order. 

Marcos, however, said Alvarez was not in his office. The former senator has also been trying to get in touch with the Speaker, but Marcos said Alvarez is “very busy.” 

“We are separate branches of government… It is very rare that any branch defies the order of the judiciary, which is exactly what is happening now. And over what?” said Marcos.  

The 6 Ilocos Norte officials find themselves in the middle of the political feud between Fariñas and the Marcoses.

Since 1998, the Fariñas and Marcos families have either been allies or rivals in Ilocos Norte after the Marcoses returned to the province when patriarch and late dictator Ferdinand Marcos died in exile in 1989.

In 2015, the Marcoses cut ties with Fariñas and dropped him from their “One Ilocos Norte” ticket. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.