Ilocos Norte provincial political rivals Governor Imee Marcos and 1st district Rep. and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas sparred over the use of the letters, “P-IMEE” in the projects of the governor for the province.

This was at the resumption of the House Committee on Good Government’s investigation into the alleged misuse of some 66 M pesos in provincial excise tax funds in the purchase of vehicles for farmers.

Committee Chairman Johnny Pimentel had asked Marcos for documents the panel subpoenaed, to include a list of programs under the “P-IMEE” program as well as a logbook, journal and ledger of programs from 2011 to 2012.

Marcos explained that “P-IMEE” is a mere brand for programs requested by citizens so there really are no specific programs. The use of the term has been discontinued as these projects have been given specific names. Marcos maintained this is not a specific program or projectr to include projects funded from corporate social responsbility programs.

Pimentel pointed out that the purchased vehicles do not appear to be listed in the province’s annual investment plan which is required by a department of budget memorandum.

Pedro Agcaoili, head of the bids and awards committee that presided over the transaction in question, maintained that there are items in the AIP that justified the purchase though it was not specific.

Pimentel however noted there is no listing specifically for vehicles though they will revisit the item about Tourism promotions.

Farinas asked Agcaoili to specifically point out the item in the AIP for the purchase of the motor vehciles.

Farinas got Vice Governor Angelo Barba to confirm that there is no provincial ordinance that authorizes the specific purchase of the vehicles.

Farinas then asked Marcos what is the legal basis of the “P-IMEE,” if there is an ordinance or executive order creating it?

Marcos replied that it is  in a provincial ordinance passed in September 2010. Marcos later on explained it is just branding, similar to ‘RUDYF” or “RIA”that are attributed to projects of Farinas and his daughter,  Board Members Ria Farinas.

Farinas however countered that the acronym RCF—Farinas’ initials—refer to projects that do not spend money. Farinas alleged P-IMEE refers to lump sum projects. Farinas says there is an ordinance appropriating 62M of the provincial excise tax funds—about 4M to assistance to municipalities and remaining 57M to the Programang Ikauunlad ng Mamamayan, Ekonomiya at Ekolohiya. Farinas maintained lump sums are prohibited.

Marcos however explained that the local government code allows lump sums subject to certain rules.

Marcos maintained that the cash advances for the purchase of the vehicles have not been disallowed and have in fact been cleared by the Commission on Audit. Marcos reiterated that the decision to proceed with a cash advance is the recommendation of the provincial local finance committee while the Bids and Awards Committee decides the mode of procurement.

Farinas then mentioned thatEncarnacion , cashier appeared to have a resort—the same Gaor who supposedly got a cash advance used in the transactions. Gaor clarified that it is Genedine Jambaro and not Gaor who has a resort. Gaor who confirmed also getting a cash advance worth 18M  said she held onto the money for 3 months to facilitate payments for the staggered deliveries of vehicles.

Farinas then grilled Granstar, the supplier of the purchase vehicles.

Farinas was displeased that Granstar’s President  was not at the hearing, with only Vice-President Gilbert Suribas present. Granstar Corporate Secretary  Dominique Elnar clarified he only has a nominal percentage  and named a Mr Fabian Go as company president.

Senior Deputy Majority Leader Rimpy Bondoc then named the other stakeholders, pointing out that  5G Holdings Corporation  owns majority of the stocks.

Farinas then asked who was the importer of the vehciles, Elnar said he doesnt know the specific importer since the there are vehicles imported by Granstar and others imported by other companies he did not know. he later named one Abucayan company and one delphi company.

Farinas then pointed out that some of the vehicles did not appear to have passed through customs. Farinas also observed that the so-called Ilocos 6 suddenly became cooperative in the investigation after Marcos joined them in the hearings.

Later on in the hearing, ABS Party List Rep. Eugene Michael De Vera raised the matter of 2 resolutions  from the provincial board that he attacked the House probe and praised the so-called Ilocos 6. Farinas also pointed out that he was even declared persona non grata and  urged them to file a  disbarment case against him. Senior Board Member Toto Lazo said they will file in due time. Farinas argued he is just doing his job and that Senator Miriam Santiago also faced a disbarment case that was dismissed because of parliamentary immunity. farinas could not contain his emotions, citing his family members born and raised in Laoag City. Farinas also pointed out this is the kind of provincial board they have.

the hearing was attended by Marcos, mother Ilocos Norte 2nd District Rep. Imelda Marcos, former senator Bongbong Marcos and former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.