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House panel recommends raps vs. Ilocos Norte execs over tobacco fund 'misuse'


A House committee has recommended the filing of complaints against several Ilocos Norte officials and some private individuals over the alleged anomalous purchase of P64.45 million worth of vehicles using tobacco excise tax shares.

Following several hearings, the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability said it found that the 110 Foton minicabs purchased by the Ilocos Norte government were overpriced by P21,450,000.

While the committee report did not identify any officials, it noted that it was Governor Imee Marcos, daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who requested the purchase of 110 vehicles worth P64.450 million.

The committee said the purchase of motor vehicles was highly irregular as it was made through cash advances and without the benefit of public bidding.

“With all premises considered, the committee has determined that the purchase of the subject vehicles by the PGIN was highly irregular and illegal,” the panel said in Committee Report No. 638.

GMA News Online has already contacted Marcos for her comment, but she has yet to make one as of posting time. She had previously denied irregularities in the  purchase of the motor vehicles.

Violations

According to the committee report, Marcos' partner Mark Chua sold each minicab unit to the Ilocos Norte government for P485,000 despite buying each vehicle for P270,000 from a Dr. Fabian Go through Granstar Motors and Industrial Corporation, indicating an overprice of P195,000 per unit.

The purchase of motor vehicles was deemed "highly irregular" as no public bidding was held in violation of Republic Act 9184 and RA 7160 for going through with the transaction without an appropriation ordinance enacted by the Sanggunian.

Responsible officials were also found to be in violation of Commission on Audit Circular No. 92-382 for paying for the units through cash advances, the report said.

It also alleged that RA 7171 was ignored by officials as a special support fund reserved exclusively for the advancement of the self-reliance of tobacco farmers through various projects was used for the purchase.

The committee also found that the vehicles were not registered with the Land Transportation Office (LTO), in violation of RA No. 4136.

Aside from officials, some private individuals, including Chua, were also recommended to be charged. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

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