WATCH | Imelda pleads for liberty of Ilocos 6; House committee refuses to budge

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The Ilocos 6 attend the hearing of the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability on Tuesday. Photo by Roices Naguit, News5.

MANILA – Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Imelda Marcos has asked House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to release on humanitarian grounds the “Ilocos 6,” detained for contempt since May 29. Her plea-letter was read at Tuesday’s resumption of the House panel inquiry into the alleged misuse of tobacco excise taxes.

The six were ordered detained by the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability for failing to answer questions in an ongoing inquiry into the use of P66 million in Ilocos Norte’s share of tobacco taxes for vehicle purchases.

On Tuesday, Ilocos Norte treasurer Josephine Calajate, accountant Edna Batulayan, budget officer Evangeline Tabulog, bids and awards committee head Pedro Agcaoili, as well as Genedine Jambaro and Encarnacion Gaor of the provincial treasurer’s office also asked the congressmen to be freed, but Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, committee chairman, refused to budge.

He said they could not grant Marcos’ request because the Ilocos 6 had been cited for contempt after they refused to answer during an inquiry.

Pimentel added that they could grant Marcos’ request if she would advise them to answer the questions truthfully.

“Worried na worried na kami (We are really worried),” said Batulayan, who added that they were “very much depressed,” which was why they could not answer questions properly and sought liberty. She promised that they would return after being allowed to go home.

Marcos, in a letter to House Speaker Alvarez and Pimentel, promised that the Ilocos 6 would appear before the committee and respect its invitations or subpoenas.

She noted that this was their 22nd day of detention.

The former First Lady also argued that the Ilocos 6 were aged 47 to 63, and some of them had heart ailments, diabetes, or lumbar problems which could worsen while they were detained. One had even suffered a mild stroke, she said.

Marcos said she was nearing her 88th birthday, and had realized through the years that “It is not power but the milk of human kindness that make us godly. Not influence or privilege or pride, for true greatness is wrought by love. Love for the small and helpless. And, like me and the Ilocos employees, the elderly and weak.”

She said that the Ilocos 6 had children and grandchildren who depended on them for their daily needs. The disruption in the Ilocos 6’s daily routine had led to their and their family’s anxiety.

“You do not invoke your right to remain silent,” said Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, during the interrogation of the Ilocos 6 that followed after the letter was read during the hearing.

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