Ombudsman probing Imee Marcos over questionable projects

MANILA, Philippines – After state auditors and the House of Representatives recommended the filing of charges against Ilocos Norte officials under the watch of Governor Imee Marcos for misuse of funds, the Office of the Ombudsman said it is also looking into the alleged anomalies.

"It's under fact-finding investigation... we initiated motu proprio," outgoing Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said on Thursday, July 12, in an integrity and investment forum.

Morales said their move would help "accelerate the finding of facts that have a bearing on the investigation."

Her pronouncement comes a week after the House committee on good government and public accountability recommended the filing of administrative and criminal charges against officials of the Ilocos Norte provincial government.

The committee slammed the provincial government for purchasing 110 Foton minicabs amounting to P64.45 million without public bidding. The funds were sourced from the tobacco excise taxes intended to assist tobacco farmers.

The minicabs were also overpriced by over P21 million.

The committee did not list the names of those who should be charged, but said it was Marcos who requested the purchase of the vehicles.

The Commission on Audit (COA) also reported multiple irregularities in transactions of Ilocos Norte amounting to P154 million, due to doubtful deliveries of goods.

State auditors also found some P21.8 million worth of purchases that were initiated using fabricated documents.

COA said Ilocos Norte officials uploaded printouts of other agencies in the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS).

"[It is] a clear manifestation of the fabrication of documents to support the disbursements/payments of the suppliers/contractors, thus affecting the legality, validity, and propriety of the disbursements/payments," said COA.

COA has already asked Marcos to explain all the issues contained in the auditors' report. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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