GRIEF

Pampanga 3rd District Rep. Aurelio Dong Gonzales breaks his silence on the death of his wife Elizabeth in the Resorts World Manila Incident.

Gonzales, an assistant majority leader of the House, spoke at the hearing of the House Committee on Banks on the problems that affected BPI and BDO depositors recently. Continue reading

PAT

The House of Representatives is unperturbed by the appeals of Supreme Court Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno and  Apellate Court Presiding Justice Andres Reyes to recall the show cause order the Committee on Good Government issued to CA justices who ordered the release of the so-called Ilocos Norte 6. Continue reading

The Feud between Ilocos Norte’s top rival politicians is now poised to reach the Supreme Court and open a clash between the House of Representatives and the Court of Appeals.
The House of Representatives is going after the 3 justices of the Appellate Court who ordered the release of 6 Ilocos Norte Provincial executives detained by the House for failing to answer questions in a congressional probe on the alleged misuse of excise taxes collected by the province for cigarettes.

No one objected when 30 members of the House Committee on Good Government voted to order to the justices to show cause why they should not be held in contempt for their order.
Separately, the House is also considering filing an administrative case before the Supreme Court and seeking their disbarement.

House Justice Committee Chair Rey Umali opined that the CA should have dismissed the petition filed by the 6 since the petition did not implease indispensable parties, as required by the rules.

This after the Committee met today to give the provincial executives a final chance to cooperate after Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos asked the body to release the 6 to her on recognizance. Committee Chairman Johnny Pimentel read Marcos’ letter which cited that the employees, aged 47-63 have medical conditions and families . Marcos personally appeared at the hearing but her plea was refused after the 6 continued to refuse to answer questions. The 6 also remain detained until they answer questions or the term of the 17th Congress expires in 2019.

The probe stems from the the alleged fraudulent use of P66.45 million in public funds representing the province’s share of excise tax collections from locally
manufactured Virginia type cigarettes.

Ilocos Norte treasurer Josephine Calajate, accountant Edna Batulayan, budget officer Evangeline Tabulog, bids and awards committee head Pedro Agcaoili as well as Genedine Jambaro and Encarnacion Gaor of the provincial treasurer’s office have been detained since May 29 at the House, after they were cited in contempt by Pimentel’s panel.

During the hearing, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas maintained that the CA cannot order the release of the 6, since the jurisprudence cited by the court is not analogous to this case. Farinas maintained that the 6 are not facing criminal cases.

During the hearing. COA Ilocos Norte State Auditor 3 Cornelio Viernes maintained that in his audit observation, he cited the provincial government for resorting to cash advances in the use of funds, exposing the money to misappropriation.

Farinas pointed out that the audit observation was addressed to Governor Imee Marcos. 15M in cash advances were used to purchase buses, while 32M mission were used for the purchase of mini trucks. Farinas claimed that when he called for the probe, documents concerning these transactions went missing. Farinas says that the statements of the 6 that unless they see the original, they cannot testify is a ground to be held in contempt.

The 6 were confronted with the documents again during the hearing and they repeatedly refused to testify, first citing the absence of their preferred lawyer, Board Member Vicentito Lazo, was not around. Viernes on the other hand confirmed that the documents in the custody of the House were faithful reproductions of the documents he audited.

The House has issued subpoena duces tecum for the Landbank and the Philippine Check Clearing House to produce their copies of the checks.

During the hearing Commission on Audit Commissionner Jose Fabia told lawmakers that cash advances are disallowed because there is a chance money will be lost as it is easier to take kickbacks.

Viernes said the provincial government did not offer an explanation.

Farinas believes that the 6 are being sacrificed by their lawyers to protect the mastermind of alleged wrongdoing. Farinas says the House won’t release the 6 and fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Farinas-Marcos feuds comes soon after a separate feud between another set of President Duterte’s allies: House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Davao del Norte Rep Antonio Floirendo Jr.