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Ombudsman investigating Imee Marcos, P66.45-M tobacco excise tax mess

The Office of the Ombudsman has an ongoing fact-finding investigation on the alleged misuse of P66.45 million worth of Ilocos Norte's share in the tobacco excise tax proceeds under the watch of Governor Imee Marcos.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales told reporters that the investigation on Marcos was initiated motu propio or by the agency itself.

“Yes, nag-motu propio kami. It’s under fact-finding investigation,” Morales said.

A fact-finding investigation is a way for the office to determine the basis for it to proceed to a formal probe. At this stage, the subject public official is still unaware of an ongoing probe against him or her unless it is reported to the media.

If warranted, the Ombudsman will then proceed to a preliminary investigation where the official is required to submit a counter-affidavit to answer the allegations.

Marcos and six other provincial government employees were accused of purchasing 110 overpriced Foton minicabs through the excise tax shares of Ilocos Norte.

The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, which launched a congressional inquiry on the matter, found that the procurement was overpriced by P21.45 million and has recommended the filing of criminal charges against Marcos. 

Morales said the Ombudsman can use the findings of the House committee to hasten the investigation against the eldest daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

"It will help. It will accelerate the finding of facts that have a bearing on the investigation," Morales said.

Marcos has denied any irregularity in the use of the province's share of tobacco excise taxes. —NB, GMA News