House seeks COA report on missing Ilocos documents

By Jess Diaz

MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on good government is seeking the report of the Commission on Audit (COA) on the missing documents on the alleged misuse by the Ilocos Norte provincial government of P66.4 million in tobacco funds.

Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, committee chairman, said yesterday COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo told his panel more than two months ago that he had ordered an investigation into the loss of the documents at the COA office in Ilocos Norte.

He said Aguinaldo should have the result by now and should submit his report to the House.

He said his committee is concerned about the possible conspiracy raised by majority leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas between former auditor Rizalino Franco and the provincial government.

It was Fariñas who initiated the inquiry into the use of P66.4 million in tobacco funds for the procurement of 115 buses, multi-cabs and mini-trucks by Gov. Imee Marcos, who has insisted that the disbursement and vehicle purchase were all aboveboard.

In its last 7th hearing, Franco, confront by Fariñas with information the majority leader received that day through a text message, admitted that Marcos had hired him as a financial consultant shortly after his retirement from COA.

It was during his time as Ilocos Norte supervising auditor that the eldest daughter of the late president and martial law ruler Ferdinand Marcos allowed three huge cash advances for the procurement of vehicles.

Pimentel accused Franco of withholding the fact that he is a consultant of Gov. Marcos during the four months that the good government committee has been conducting its inquiry.

“Mr. Franco has all along been keeping this vital piece of information to himself. He has not even bothered to inform the committee that he is being paid by the provincial government of Ilocos Norte for over a year now as its consultant. His silence on this matter is highly suspicious,” he said.

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