Imee Marcos shows up at House probe

Mara Cepeda
Imee Marcos shows up at House probe
(UPDATED) Former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile will serve as the Ilocos Norte governor's lawyer at the congressional inquiry into her alleged tobacco fund misuse

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos showed up at the congressional probe into her alleged misuse of P66.45 million in local tobacco funds on Tuesday, July 25.

Marcos arrived at the House committee on good government and public accountability’s probe past 9 am.

She said she came to the hearing to respect the subpoena issued against her, but she was aware that it was her political rival’s turf.  (READ: House summons Imee Marcos to tobacco fund hearing)

Wala naman tayong panalo sa Kongreso. Teritoryo nila, pero respeto sa subpoena at pagkakataon na rin magsalita (We can’t win in Congress. It’s their territory, but we’re here out of respect for the subpoena and to be able to speak up),” said Marcos.

Former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile will serve as her legal counsel. The Ilocos Norte governor sat between Enrile and her mother, Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Imelda Marcos.

Marcos’ political rival, Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, greeted Marcos and Enrile upon their arrival.

Reacting to Marcos’ decision to tap Enrile as her counsel for the case, Fariñas said in a text message to reporters: “She must be in real deep ^%#* to have Titong Mendoza and JPE in her corner. And, I thought everything was legal!”

Fariñas and two of his deputies initiated the probe after obtaining documents that she authorized the purchase of the following using tobacco funds:

  • P18,600,000 on December 1, 2011, for 40 mini-cabs to be given to barangays
  • P15,300,000 on May 25, 2012, for 5 second-hand buses
  • P32,550,000 on September 12, 2012, for 70 Foton mini-trucks for municipalities

The tobacco fund was created through Republic Act No 7171, which mandates 15% of tobacco excise taxes shall be allotted for a special support fund for tobacco farmers in the identified provinces, mostly in the Ilocos region. (READ: FAST FACTS: Tobacco funds in the Philippines)

The law specified the money can be used only for cooperative, livelihood, agro-industrial, and infrastructure projects. 

Marcos also made use of cash advances to buy the said vehicles, a violation of the Commission on Audit’s Circular 92-382, which states that all disbursements by local government units should be made in checks, except for salaries and wages, commutable allowances, honoraria and other similar payments to officials and employees, and petty operating expenses. – 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.