The House of Representatives has officially issued a subpoena  ad testificandum to Locos Norte Governor Imee Marcos to attend the July 25 hearing of the Committee on Good Government on the provincial excise tax funds.

The supboena was signed by Committee Chairman Johnny Pimentel and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, attested by Secretary General Cesar Pareja.

The subpoena reads, “you are hereby directed to appear before the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability of the House of Representatives to testify under oath  relative to the subject matter  under inquiry  on the Committee Hearing scheduled on July 25, 2017, 930AM at the Conference Room 1 and 2 Ramon Mitra Building, House of Representatives , Batasan Pambansa Complex, Constitution Hills, Quezon City. Failure to comply with this order is subject to penalty under the law. “

Marcos has been the subject of the investigation called by her provincial political rival, House Majority Leader and Locos Norte 1st district Rep. Rodolfo Farinas. Farinas got the Committee to investigate the alleged misuse of some 66.4M in cigarette excise funds by the provincial government in the purchase of vehicles without a public bidding.

Marcos has repeatedly said she will skip the hearing, citing concerns by her family that she maybe detained like the 6 provincial employees who refused to answer questions on the transactions in question.

House officials have repeatedly warned Marcos that disobeying a subpoena merits detention by the House.

Marcos and Farinas are on their last terms in their current offices and are expected to vie for other positions.

earlier today the provincial government hit back at Farinas issuing a press release where it revealed that the Ilocos Norte Sangguniang Panlalawigan on June 20, 2017, passed a resolution reiterating their request to the Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio-Morales, to investigate the case of the missing Laoag City Treasurer Elena V. Asuncion and “PHP85.4 million, more or less” which was discovered in June 2016.

Provincial Resolution No. 081-2017 reiterates Resolution No. 012-2016 “requesting the OMB to moto proprio conduct an investigation regarding the absconding of the Laoag City Treasurer and the loss of [amount] in the City Government of Laoag and if warranted to file the appropriate criminal and/or administrative charge/s against the persons and/or government officials responsible for the loss of taxpayers’ money.”

If possible, Lazo says, the investigation into Laoag City’s missing funds has to be fast-tracked for people to know who must be accused, whether for a criminal or an administrative case.

Lazo also pointed out that Fariñas filed HR No. 882 which called for the probe  in March 14, 2017—a day after the SP had released the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)’s report regarding the case of Laoag City’s funds.

Lazo further pointed out that Elena, the missing treasurer, has a child with the surname of Fariñas.

Thus, the Board is also studying the possibility of asking Congress to investigate and possibly amend the Anti-Nepotism Law to include within its scope kin who are products of common law unions.

The said law prohibits the appointment of family members, whether by consanguinity or affinity, to government positions.

The political rivalry between Rudy Farinas and Imee Marcos for provincial dominance keeps getting uglier.

The Ilocos Norte Provincial Board or Sangguniang Panlalawigan today approved Resolution No. 2017-06081, which declares 1st District rep. Rodolfo “Rudy” C. Fariñas as “persona non grata.”

The resolution is sponsored by SP Member and Lawyer Vicentito “Toto” M. Lazo and Vice Governor Angelo Marcos Barba.

Technically, the legal term “persona non grata” means “unwelcome person,” implying that a certain individual [declared as persona non grata] is being prohibited by the government from entering its jurisdiction after their ordinances and laws were violated by that individual.

However, fellow SP Member and Lawyer Da Vinci M. Crisostomo clarified that the motion “persona non grata” to the Congressman does not prohibit the Congressman from entering the province; rather, it was made to  “manifest or express our sentiments” towards Fariñas.

Well, this is in the form of a resolution, and under the parliamentary rules, it is a manifestation or expression of our feelings towards the subject person. So, ang gustong palabasin ng SP, whose members were directly elected by the people of the Province of Ilocos Norte and representing our constituents, ay yung mga damdamin at saloobin ng buong probinsiya,” he added.

Farinas, the House Majority Leader o has dismissed the Ilocos Norte Provincial Board’s Resolution declaring him persona non-grata from the province and said he will sue those behind it.

in a statement, Farinas said this won’t affect constituency work in the province. Farinas represents the first district. “Not really. It would only affect those who voted for such as I will file cases against them for damages for the violation of my constitutional rights, as well as for a violation of the Anti-Graft & Corrupt Practices Act for causing me undue injury thru evident bad faith. “

Farinas maintained the board has no power to curtail his rights. “I am a citizen of this country and no one, especially sangguniang panlalawigan members, can declare me, or any other citizen of this country, a persona non grata. Not even convicted criminals are declared as such. I am the duly elected representative of the first district of Ilocos Norte,and the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. “

Farinas pointed out that  Such a declaration applies only in diplomatic relations, more particularly to aliens. 

Quoting Google Farinas explained thatIn non-diplomatic usage, referring to someone as persona non grata is to say that he or she is ostracized. Such a person is for all intents and purposes culturally shunned, so as to be figuratively non-existent. “That is what those 8 have done to me!”

Fariñas earlier initiated a congressional inquiry regarding Ilocos Norte alleged misuse of tobacco funds under Republic Act (RA) 7171, citing in contempt six employees of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte.

Dubbed as ‘Ilocos Six’, the six employees are continuously being detained under the custody of the House after the last hearing on May 29.

Former Senator Bongbong Marcos could be held liable for advising sister Governor Imee Marcos to skip the next House probe on the Ilocos Norte excise funds.

in a text message, Committee on Good Government Chairman Johnny Pimentel was asked if the former senator maybe held liable the same way senator leila de lima was held liable for advising her former driver ronnie dayan to skip the House probe on the narcotics trade in the state penitentiary. Pimentel said, “yes he will be liable”

In a statement over the weekend, Governor Marcos said she will skip the next hearing upon the advice of her brother and mother, Congresswoman Imelda Marcos. This even if the governor says she herself wants to come to congress and explain the alleged misuse of funds in the purchase of 

Pimentel did not answer  when asked if congresswoman Marcos will be held liable as well.

House Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas, who initiated the probe, for his part said, “Re BBM’s advice to Gov. Marcos, let us report the news as it happens, which you already did re the advice. As to whether or not she will disobey the subpoena, let us wait for it to happen. “

the House Justice Committee filed an ethics case against de lima at the Senate for her advise to Dayan. the Committee also filed a case at the QC RTC for disobedience to summons.

Pimentel instead maintained that if governor  marcos will not attend she will be cited for contempt and subsequently a warrant of arrest will be issued to her just like ronnie dayan.

The committee approved the issuance of a subpoena for Governor Marcos to attend the July 25 hearing, which political analysts have already dubbed as one sign of the early onset of the 2019 election season. Marcos and Farinas are rivals for provincial political dominance.

Farinas meantime rebutted the camp of governor marcos which reminded Farinas that he too had faced a case at the Ombudsman from his time as provincial governor.

Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member and Lawyer Da Vinci M. Crisostomo reminds Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Rodolfo “Rudy” C. Fariñas of his case with docket no. OMB-97-2150, “Leonardo Velasco versus Rodolfo C. Fariñas,” at the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB).

Fariñas, then governor of Ilocos Norte, had been charged in 2002 with “Illegal Use of Public Funds” in connection with the purchase of a brand new 1995 Jeep Cherokee Laredo using a cash advance sourced from Republic Act (RA) 7171, or the Tobacco Excise Tax.

The said Cherokee purchase was mentioned by one of the “Ilocos Six” employees of the Provincial Government during the House of Representatives Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability’s fourth and emergency hearing last June 20 for House Resolution No. 882 investigating Ilocos Norte’s “alleged misuse” of tobacco funds.

In a statement, Farinas said, “Disinformation campaign!  I was never charged for using tobacco funds to purchase any motor vehicle. Isn’t it strange that they are talking of an alleged 1995 case or more than 20 years ago, but not about the present subject matter of the HOR inquiry? At least, if what they’re saying are true, public documents when I was the governor more than 20 years ago are still there for their review, but not those under the present administration of Gov. Imee Marcos. She is sacrificing the so-called Ilocos 6 to cover up for her. “

Farinas explained that  The only case filed against him  in the Sandiganbayan was for the alleged charging of a speedboat that was allegedly donated to the Province of Ilocos Norte by an association of Filipinos in Southern California. “I was acquitted by the Sandiganbayan as it was proven that it was I who actually and personally advanced the payment for the speedboat. Those are public records that may be found in the Sandiganbayan! “

Farinas maintained that the use of tobacco funds for purchase of motor vehicles is not allowed by the law, which is the subject of the present inquiry in the HOR. “This is what should be explained by Gov. Marcos and the Ilocos 6, especially the cash advances for the purchase of 115 motor vehicles from tobacco funds, without public bidding, at P465,000 for each multi cab that are allegedly Foton mini trucks. The exclusive distributor of Foton has testified under oath that not a single Foton mini truck has been sold to the province of Ilocos Norte. The fact alone of the Foton mini trucks appearing in all those public documents is a clear case of falsification of public documents. “

Farinas issued this challenge to Governor Marcos. ” I am challenging Gov. Marcos and the Ilocos 6 to identify and bring to the HOR the supplier of those 110 multi cabs subject of the House inquiry. Unless, of course, they have all forgotten where they came from. Gov. Marcos has submitted two letters to the committee stating that the purchase of these mini cabs was legal. So, she should come affirm such statement under oath before the Committee.  Thanks, guys!”