MANILA, Philippines – Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos retracted her allegation that the Liberal Party (LP) bribed lawmakers with a P100-million fund to bar her from attending the House probe into her alleged misuse of provincial tobacco funds.
On Tuesday, July 25, Marcos faced the House committee on good government and public accountability, which had issued a subpoena for her to attend to explain the anomalies in the purchase of P66.45 million worth of motor vehicles in Ilocos Norte.
Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas asked Marcos who was her source when she told The Manila Times that a P100-million fund from “yellow” forces was being offered to legislators to stop her from attending the probe. (READ: Imee Marcos grilled over ‘gross negligence’ in tobacco fund use)
Yellow is the color associated with the LP. Marcos alleged former president Benigno Aquino III, LP chairman emeritus, was also behind the bribe.
During the hearing, Marcos first refused to disclose her source’s identity, only saying he or she was also from the House. Fariñas, Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative who had a falling out with the governor, did not buy his political rival’s statement.
“Kailangan sabihin 'nyo po ‘yan kasi (You have to name names because) that puts a bad mark on all of the members of Congress,” said Fariñas.
He repeatedly tried to make Marcos admit who her source was. He later threatened to cite her in contempt and detain her if she refused to answer.
Marcos then asked for time to consult with her legal counsel, former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile, for about 5 minutes.
When the hearing resumed, Fariñas gave way to Deputy Speaker Miro Quimbo, the highest-ranking LP member in the House. Quimbo asked Marcos who was her source of the claim.
“For that, I apologize and withdraw my statement. It was my mere suspicion and given that the source is uncertain, I withdraw the accusation to the integrity and the honor of the House that a P100 million was circulated,” said Marcos.
“‘Di po totoo 'yun at ako po ay nagpapaumanhin kung nasaktan ang ibang miyembro ng ating Kongreso (That’s not true and I apologize if I hurt the members of the House),” she added.
Marcos apologizes to Aquino
Quimbo then tagged Marcos’ accusation as “fake news.” He said Fariñas is the “farthest person” the LP would be helping in any way.
“We wanted to stay away from these proceedings, but obviously it’s something that we take to heart because Majority Leader Fariñas is the farthest person that the Liberal Party will help. He is the responsible person for decimating our number. From 130, we are now down to 27 today,” said Quimbo, drawing laughter from his colleagues.
He added he appreciated Marcos’ apology, but said she had caused damage that was “quite irretrievable” for Aquino.
Marcos then apologized to the former president.
“Once again, I would like to apologize. I have no notion of what was actually written up in the media and I decry the dragging in of the name of president Noynoy Aquno, who was my colleague in the House in the opposition for years and years,” said Marcos.
“Ang pag-aakusa ng katiwalain ay ‘di na bago na sa pamilya ko. At nakikita naman natin na patuloy pa rin, kaya kailangan ipagtanggol ang pangalan at dignidad, hindi lamang ng Kongreso kundi isa sa amin dito,” she added.
(Accusations of corruption aren’t new to my family. And we can see that it still continues today, that’s why we need to defend the name and dignity not only of the House but all of us.) – Rappler.com