By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Alyansa Dagiti Mannalon ti Ilocos Norte-Solidarity of Peasants against Exploitation (Alliance of Peasants in Ilocos Norte or AMIN-Stop Exploitation) said the move of Provincial Board of Ilocos Norte only muddled the misuse of tobacco excise tax issue.
AMIN Secretary General Antonino Pugyao said the Provincial Board’s move to declare Representative Rodolfo Fariñas as persona non grata after the latter initiated a probe on the alleged misuse of P66.5 million Ilocos Norte tobacco excise tax funds veers away from the crux of the issue which is the inappropriate use of the RA 7171 or the tobacco excise tax funds.
“If they can do this to Fariñas, the majority floor leader of the house representative how much more to the common people who would go against the whims of the Marcoses,” Pugyao said.
On June 27, the eight members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Ilocos Norte passed a resolution declaring Fariñas ‘persona non grata’. Weeks after Fariñas inititiated a House probe on the alleged misuse of P66.5 million Ilocos Norte tobacco excise tax money.
Pugyao said that instead of fanning hatred and presenting it as a mere political rift, members of the provincial body, as responsible Ilocanos and public officials should have encouraged members of the Ilocos 6 to be truthful to their oath as public servants and divulge the truth regarding the anomalous transaction.
The Ilocos 6 include Provincial Budget Officer Evangeline Tabulog, Provincial Treasurer’s Office staff Genedine Jambaro and Encarnacion Gaor, Provincial Accountant Eden Battulayan, Provincial Treasurer Josephine Calajate and Provincial Planning and Development Officer Pedro Agcaoili.
Pugyao said that the provincial government of Ilocos Norte clearly violated the implementing rules and regulations of RA 7171 or the Tobacco excise tax law when it purchased vehicles using the excise taxes. He said that the Ilocos Norte officials instead of rectifying what he said was an injustice chose to demand for the release from detention those complicit with Governor Imee Marcos in the inappropriate, illegal and anomalous use of the excise taxes.
Pugyao urged the Committee on Good Governance and Public Accountability of the House of Representatives to expand the investigation to include other tobacco producing provinces for possible irregularities and misuse of the tobacco excise tax funds. He said that the investigation should cover past and present officials.
Pugyao further said that the advice of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to his sister Imee to skip the June 25 congressional hearing is expected.
“Bong-bong’s advice to Imee is something expected from someone who comes from a family who fights with tooth and nail to protect their billions of ill-gotten wealth,” Pugyao reiterated.
“This is a clear example of how bureaucrats, especially those who belong to well-entrenched dynasties treat public office as profit-making opportunities,” he ended. # nordis.net