Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos denied on Wednesday that there was any anomaly on the move to use P66.5-million tobacco funds resort into cash advances to purchase 115 land vehicles in 2011 to 2012.
Marcos said before the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability that Commission on Audit (COA) said in its audit and post-audit that all equipments, vehicles, and payment are all complete.
“There is really no anomaly because all of the things are there. No one can say that we spent it illegally because there is COA who stated in there audit and post-audit that all equipments and vehicles are all complete. The payments are also complete,” Marcos told the inquiry in Filipino.
The committee, chaired by Surigao Del Sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel, has been investigating the alleged use of the provincial government of Ilocos Norte of P66.45 million using tobacco excise tax collection funds to procure 40 multicabs worth P18.6 million, five second-hand Hyundai buses worth P15.3 million, and 70 mini-trucks priced at P32.5 million in 2011 to 2012.
The panel also based its investigation on House Resolution No. 882 filed by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of the 1st district of Ilocos Norte.
Fariñas grilled the governor, saying that the purchases of the vehicles exchanged into cash advances violated the provisions of Republic Act 717 and RA 9184 or the “Government Procurement Reform Act”, and Presidential Decree 1445 or the Government Auditing Code if the Philippines.”
Fariñas, who is a former governor of Ilocos Norte, showed documents that pointed out that the province made purchases worth P66.450 million in three separate transactions of motor vehicles through cash advances from its shares in the tobacco excise tax collection to buy the following motor vehicles: P 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.
It can also be recalled in the previous hearings that Marcos’ issuance of cash advances also violated COA memorandum circular 97-002, which states some cases where a local chief executive can disburse cash advances.
“Releasing cash advances do not mean to cash are being stealed”, Marcos said in Filipino response to questions on the legality of the disbursement method raised by Fariñas.
“This is a legal mode of payment to the government and it was also recognized by our laws. It only said that it will only require cash for specific purpose, through a permanent bonded offer and it will be liquidated fully for specific purpose. We understand it that way,” she added in Filipino.
Marcos was accompanied by her mother Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, former senator Bongbong Marcos, and former senator Juan Ponce Enrile as her legal counsel.