Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas clash over pictures showing Farinas present at the distribution of vehciles which he claimed were ghost projects purchased with some 66.45M pesos worth of provincial tobacco excise funds without the benefit of a public bidding.

Marcos showed pictures of herself and Farinas walking side by side on at least 2 different occasions in 2011 and 2012 with the vehicles in question.

Marcos said, “alam rin natin na  kasamasama ko sa distribution andito yung pinamigay yung mga mini truck  sino yung tumataginting na konsorte ko dito kungdi naman si Congressman farinas kasama ko sa pamimigay kasama ko kasi 1 Ilocos Norte pa kami noon ngayon iba na ang usapin dahil sa matinding pulitika. pulitika dahil hawak na niya ang majority pinagmamalaki pa na siya ang tunay na speaker. “

shown the pictures, Farinas said in a message to congressional reporters,  “Yes, I was invited during the distribution and I can attest that they were given to barangay captains. I had NO idea or information that – 1. tobacco funds were used to purchase them 2. thru cash advances 3. No public bidding 4. The price of each was P465,000, which would have shocked me. “

Farinas clarifies that he himself distributed multicabs to his constituents at a lower cost.

“I have distributed multicabs to the barangays in my district at the following prices: Pickups like those shown in the pictures being distributed at P180,000 each Pickups with canopy for its bed – P200,000 Pickups with canopy for its Bec and glass windows to make it a closed van – P250,000 Please canvass around for the prices of such multicabs. “

Marcos sought a protection order from the Supreme Court for herself and 6 provincial employees detained by the Lower House for failing to answer questions during the congressional inquiry on the alleged misuse of the funds that was called by Farinas.

The  Omnibus Petition seeks three (3) forms of relief:

(a)          On behalf of the Ilocos 6, as Petitioners, for the Supreme Court to assume jurisdiction over the Petition for Habeas Corpus (CA-G.R. SP No. 151029) in the exercise of its administrative supervision over all courts (Section 6 of Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution; Section 3, Rule 4 of A.M. No. 10-4-20-SC)

The petition argues that The acts of the House of Representatives, taken in its entirety, can be described as nothing short as an assault on both the Court of Appeals and the judiciary in general, so as to prevent the Court of Appeals from carrying out its judicial functions.  “ Given the deliberate attempt of the House of Representatives to threaten the Court of Appeals and undermine its judicial independence,  there can hardly be any doubt that it is not likely that a decision on the Habeas Corpus case is forthcoming – resulting in a potential miscarriage of justice, given the clear mandate upon courts to immediately resolve Habeas Corpus Petitions.”

(b)         On behalf of Gov. Marcos, as Co-Petitioner, a special civil action for prohibition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure with application for temporary restraining order and/or issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction.

The petition argues   that the continuation of the Legislative Inquiry is contrary to the Rules Governing Inquiries.

• The legislative inquiry on House Resolution No. 882 has exceeded the mandated 60-day period under the Rules Governing Inquiries (Section 15) which should have ended on 14 May 2017. 

• Section 21, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution expressly provides that the conduct of legislative inquiries must be in accordance with the duly published rules of procedure.

The Respondents’ conduct of the purported inquiry violated Petitioners’ basic right to due process when the inquiry becomes an inquisition to determine guilt.

The petition also cites that Respondent Fariñas as accuser, inquisitor and judge.

• It can be gleaned from the contents of House Resolution No. 882 that the sponsors (mainly, Respondent Fariñas) have already pre-judged the investigation by concluding that there were “irregular purchases” or that the purchases were made “without the benefit of public bidding.” 

• In the penultimate paragraph of House Resolution No. 882, the sponsors already concluded that “the purchases by way of advances … were in blatant violation of the provisions of RA No. 7171, as well as RA No. 9184 … and Presidential Decree No. 1445 …” Save for the form, House Resolution No. 882 is, for all intents and purposes, a criminal complaint against Gov. Marcos.

• A plain reading of the entire House Resolution No. 882 would show that there is no legislative purpose for the conduct of legislative inquiry contrary to Section 21 of Article VI of the 1987 Constitution. NONE of the Whereas Clauses of the House Resolution No. 882 indicate any contemplated legislation. 

• The Ilocos 6 were cited in contempt by the Committee of Good Government and Public Accountability upon motion of Respondent Fariñas without even the slightest opportunity to be heard and to defend themselves. 

 Moreover,  the petition cites that nowhere in the Rules Governing Inquiries is it provided that among the penalties which may be imposed for contempt is that of indefinite detention until the witness answers the question in a manner satisfactory to the member of the Committee propounding the questions.

(c)          On behalf of all the Petitioners, a petition for writ of amparo under A.M. No. 07-9-12-SC.

The petition cites that  Prolonged interrogations, indefinite detention, coerced confessions, presumption of guilt and torture: these are the tools and methods that characterize the infamous Inquisitions of the Middle Ages. Pre-judged and without any rights or protections to rely upon, a person charged before the Inquisition had no recourse but to admit to the allegations raised against him/her or else be made to endure both physical and mental torture at the hands of the Inquisitors – who stood both as prosecutor and judge – until a satisfactory confession was given, regardless of the truth.

Marcos, the daughter of President Ferdinand Marcos who ruled the Philippines with an iron fist for about 20 years, and who has been accused of human rights abuses, now cries foul at the threats she’s been receiving.

“ There is no question that the Inquisition has been revived in our land, when the petitioner Gov. Marcos of Ilocos Norte has been prejudged and threatened with arrest and incarceration in a “detention chamber” by the respondent House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, if she refuses to participate in proceedings where her failure to answer questions in a matter satisfactory to her inquisitors will lead to a similar fate of indefinite detention.”

Petitioners are careful to assert that they do not question the legislature’s constitutional power to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation, including the power to cite and punish for contempt.  The existence of such power or authority, however, does not give the legislature a blanket, all-encompassing, and absolute dominion over witnesses, resource persons, or other participants in such an investigation.

Sought for his comment, Farinas said, “As you very well know, RG, the reaction or answer to the petition filed by the petitioners in the Supreme Court will be answered by us before it, if and when the SC requires such. It cannot be made through the Press. Thanks!”