By Daniel Llanto | FilAm Star Correspondent
For egging his sister Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos to snub the House of Representatives hearings on the alleged mis-use of tobacco excise tax, former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos runs the risk of being thrown in jail with her for contempt.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, chairman of the House committee on good government, said the Governor is not the only one who risks detention. “Former Sen. Bongbong Marcos may also be held in contempt and hauled to court for advising the Governor to skip the hearing.”
Pimentel discussed this possibility as the House opened to media the detention facilities prepared for Imee as well as Court of Appeals (CA) 4th Division Justices Stephen Cruz, Edwin Sorongon and Nina Antonino-Valenzuela.
The CA justices earned the ire of the House after they granted the petition for habeas corpus by the so-called Ilocos Norte 6, the provincial officials under Marcos earlier detained by the House for refusing to answer questions on the alleged tobacco excise tax anomaly.
The House Committee on Good Government is probing Marcos’s alleged misuse of provincial excise tax funds to purchase vehicles without a public bidding. House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas earlier filed House Resolution 882, which asked the committee to look into how PHP 66.4 million from the provincial excise tax funds were used to purchase buses and mini-trucks through cash advances instead of public biddings.
The detention facilities are located at the third floor of the plenary hall building. Marcos’ proposed detention area is an extension office of the Sergeant-at-Arms. Pimentel said they will procure a bed for Imee Marcos, who will be detained if she again snubs the hearing on July 25.
“As you can see, it’s habitable. It is actually very comfortable for a detention room. Nakita naman ninyo, merong receiving room, may private room, the CR, toilet and bath. She can bring her own bed. Malaki ito,” he said.
On the possible detention, as well of Bongbong Marcos, Pimentel said this parallels Sen. De Lima’s advice to her driver Ronnie Dayan to skip the House probe on the narcotics trade at the state penitentiary. De Lima has been slapped with an ethics complaint as well as a case before the Quezon City regional trial court.
“Bongbong is liable. Article 6 and Section 21 of the Constitution clearly mandates the Senate and Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation… Any person can be cited for contempt if he is causing undue interference,” the lawmaker said.
“Bongbong Marcos is clearly interfering already. Ano sabi ni Gov. Imee Marcos? I really want to cooperate but my brother has advised me not to attend. We will discuss that on July 25. Again, I appeal to Bongbong Marcos not to advise anymore,” he added.
Pimentel even said the siblings can share the same detention area. Should the House succeed in detaining Marcos, it will be the first time since they fled Malacanang that a Marcos will be detained. The significance is not lost on Pimentel.
Pimentel clarified that the committee has not yet issued a warrant for Marcos’ arrest. Showing the detention area to media was a response to Marcos’ statement that she won’t attend the hearing, he said.
Imee Marcos has been issued a subpoena to attend the July 25 hearing. If she disobeys that, she will be issued a show cause order to say why she should not be held in contempt. After that, a warrant for her arrest will come next.
Pimentel said detaining Imee Marcos will be a tough job. “We know very well we’re talking about not an ordinary person but an incumbent governor, a Marcos at that. We know how powerful the Marcoses are — it would be more difficult to arrest Gov. Imee Marcos. The procedure is the sergeant-at-arms will serve the warrant with the support of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the military authorities.”
The PNP and the Armed Forces are both under the executive branch led by President Duterte, who counts both Marcos and Fariñas as allies. Duterte has so far kept mum on the issue.