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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Imee grilled over use of tobacco tax funds for vehicles
09-August-2017, 06:44:20 PM

The House committee on good government and public accountability resumed Wednesday its inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the use by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) of P66.45 million using tobacco excise tax collection funds or the Special Support Fund under Republic Act 7171 to buy motor vehicles, with Governor Imee Marcos answering questions about the purchases.

The committee chaired by Rep. Johnny Pimentel (2nd District, Surigao del Sur) based its inquiry on House Resolution No. 882 filed by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas (1st District, Ilocos Norte) and Reps. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. (3rd District, Pampanga) and Juan Pablo Bondoc (4th District, Pampanga).

Fariñas, a former governor of Ilocos Norte, showed copies of documents that indicate the PGIN made purchases amounting to P66.450 million in three separate transactions of motor vehicles through cash advances from the PGIN’s share in the tobacco excise tax collection to buy the following motor vehicles: P18,600,000 check dated December 1, 2011 for 40 mini-cabs to be given to barangays; P15,300,000 check dated May 25, 2012 for five secondhand buses; and P32,550,000 check dated September 12, 2012 for 70 Foton mini trucks for municipalities.

He said the purchases of the vehicles by way of cash advances were in blatant violation of the provisions of Republic Act 7171 and RA 9184 or the “Government Procurement Reform Act”, and Presidential Decree 1445 or the “Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.”

“Mandated by the Constitution as well as the Local Government Code that no money shall be bailed out of the treasury except to the pursuant of appropriation or made by law or ordinance,” Fariñas said.

“Meron ba kayong appropriations o ordinance o annual investment program na pwede kayong bumili ng vehicles? May I ask the vice governor, did you ever pass any appropriation ordinance for the purchase of motor vehicles?” Fariñas asked Ilocos Norte Vice-Governor Eugenio Angelo Barba.

“Specifically motor vehicles? None, your honor,” Barba replied.

“Hindi ko masasabi na prohibited cash advance ito dahil pumasa sa COA audit, walang notice of suspension, walang disallowance dahil fully liquidated,” Marcos said.

On the issue of Programang Ikauunlad ng Mamamayan Ekonomiya at Ekolohiya, or “P IMEE, Fariñas asked what is the legal basis for the creation of P-IMEE?

“Is it a provincial ordinance or executive order?,” he said.

Marcos said that P-IMEE was just a general label to give some kind of a brand name.

“Under P-IMEE there were no specific programs. It was simply a branding label given for the projects of citizens generated request and eventually we terminated the use of the term because we have now become specific for tourism and social services,” said Marcos.

She was accompanied by her mother Rep. Imelda Romualdez-Marcos (2nd district, Ilocos Norte), brother former Senator Ferdinand “Bong-Bong” Marcos Jr. and former Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile said. / EAG