A PANEL in the House of Representatives probing the alleged misuse of P64 million allocated to Ilocos Norte on Tuesday refused the appeal of Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos to release the “Ilocos Six.”
The House committee on good government and public accountability, led by Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, said the six detained Ilocos Norte executives will be kept under House custody until June 30, 2019.
The six are Ilocos Norte Provincial Treasurer officers Genedine Jambaro, Encarnacion Gaors and Josephine Calajate; Ilocos Norte Accountant IV Eden Battulayan, engineer Pedro Agcaoili and Ilocos Norte Provincial Budget Officer Evangeline Tabulog.
House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas expressed dismay that the six failed to answer his questions on the cash advances by the Ilocos Norte provincial government using public funds, which represent the province’s share of the excise tax collections from Virginia type cigarettes.
“If you are not willing to answer questions, we cannot do anything but put you all back to the detention cell,” Pimentel said.
“For the last time, I am giving you all the six resource persons another chance for you to answer so you could go home to your families.”
Pimentel made his statement even as his committee on Tuesday issued a show-cause order against three Court of Appeals justices asking them to explain why they should not be cited in contempt for ordering the release of the Ilocos Six.
The committee’s members unanimously voted 30-0 to approve the show-cause order to Associate Justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon and Nina Antonino-Valenzuela, who earlier approved the petition of the Ilocos Six to post bail.
Fariñas said the six would have been allowed to go had they answered the questions posed to them truthfully, but they refused to cooperate.
The Ilocos Six maintain that they have to be with their lawyers to answer questions from the panel.
Rep. Imelda Marcos had written to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to “respectfully appeal to the compassion and sympathy of the House of Representatives through your leadership, grounded on humanitarian purposes for the temporary liberty” of the Ilocos Six.
Marcos said she was worried about the health of the six officials whose age ranged from 47 to 63.
“Most if not all of them have medical conditions that may worsen due to confinement for a long period of time,” Marcos said in her letter read by Pimentel.
“…Also, they are parents and grandparents who have children and grandchildren who are depending on them for their daily needs. The sudden prolonged interruption of their daily family routine has caused much anxiety to them and to their family members.
“Thus, I respectfully and graciously petition this Honorable Committee to release temporarily on my own recognizance the six detained provincial government employees. I vouch for the six employees. They shall appear and respect the invitations or subpoena issued to them by this Honorable Committee,” she said.