House panel mulls plunder raps vs. Imee Marcos, Ilocos Norte execs over tobacco fund anomaly

Image from Imee Marcos' Facebook account
  • House panel considering recommending plunder charges vs Ilocos Norte guv, other officials
  • Raps in connection with misuse of tobacco funds, purchase of overpriced vehicles
  • Panel chair said Marcos the most responsible since transactions bore her signature

MANILA, Philippines – The chair of the House panel probing the Ilocos Norte provincial government’s alleged misuse of tobacco funds said they were considering the recommendation of plunder charges against Gov. Imee Marcos and other local officials.

According to Surigao Rep. Johnny Pimentel, head of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, the evidence suggests that Marcos and the Ilocos Norte local government misused the tobacco funds by purchasing multicabs that were overpriced and fertilizer that did not go through the bidding process.

“This present hearing that we are conducting with regards to the multicabs, this is P66 million and we might consider in the committee report the filing a plunder case against the culpable officers,” GMA News quoted him as saying. “We also saw one transaction, the purchase of fertilizer in the amount of P56 million.

“Again, without the conduct of public bidding, pasok na pasok po ito sa [this falls well within the definition of] plunder,” he added.

Pimentel also said Marcos and her LGU violated a memo from the Commission on Audit when it used the tobacco funds as cash advances for the motor vehicles, and not as payment for the salaries of its employee. Such act, he added, also ran contrary to RA 7171 which mandates the use of such funds primarily for the livelihood projects of tobacco farmers.

As for the governor’s defense that she was not liable for relying on her subordinates, Pimentel contended she was the most responsible as the questioned transactions all bore her signature.

“Of course, she is the head. All the transactions bear the signature of Governor Imee Marcos. She is the most responsible person in all these transactions,” he said.