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Fariñas, Imee trade barbs over Ilocos projects named after them

 

Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Farinãs and Gov. Imee Marcos. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTOS

 

Political rivals Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos on Wednesday traded barbs about their projects in the province that contained their names.

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During the resumption of the House of Representatives inquiry into the alleged misuse of P66.45-million Ilocos Norte provincial government tobacco funds, Fariñas asked Marcos about the “P-Imee” program.

P-Imee is the acronym for “Programang Ikauunlad ng Mamamayan, Ekonomiya at Ekolohiya.” Marcos said she wanted to give it a hip name to promote herself.

“The name given was P-Imee. Siguro nagpapauso lang yun. Siyempre inuuso rin natin yung mga pangalan natin,” Marcos said.

In response, Marcos said even Fariñas had his own project fund after his name – the Rural Urban Development infrastructure Fund or RUDIF.

“May RUDIF din yan, yung Rural Urban Development Infrastructure Fund… Meron pa ngang RIA e. Siyempre pinapauso lang sa atin,” she added, referring to Fariñas daughter.

Fariñas denied that millions of public funds were involved in anomalous disbursement under his pet name projects.

“Yes, Ma’am. Pero hindi po sa paggamit ng pera. Yung acronym parang Rudy Fariñas pero wala pong pumupuntang pera doon. Sa P-Imee kasi, daan-daang milyon po ang napunta diyan,” Fariñas said.

Provincial board member Vicentito Lazo said the Project Imee is only named as such for branding, pointing out that Fariñas even had his similar project fund when the latter was governor.

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“Branding lang po ito. If I remember correctly, when the Honorable Majority Leader was congressman, after you three terms as governor, you had your own RUDIF,” Lazo said.

Fariñas hit back by saying the Sangguniang Panlalawigan appropriated among themselves a P3.9-million development fund for the members.

Lazo denied that the development fund has a discretionary nature similar to the defunct congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), a savings impounding mechanism, parts of which were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. It was criticized as former president Benigno Aquino III’s pork barrel fund.

“If the Honorable Majority leader is insinuating we have barangay development fund, or similarly to the PDAF or the DAP, we have none,” Lazo said.

“We did not insinuate, let the document speak for itself!” Fariñas said, referring to the ordinance.

The House of Representatives inquiry into the alleged misuse of P66.45-million Ilocos Norte provincial government tobacco funds for minicabs, buses and minitrucks centered on the provincial government’s resort to cash advances, even though this mode of disbursement is prohibited unless for emergency or payroll purposes.

Marcos denied any anomaly involved in the cash advances of millions of taxpayers’ money, a transaction Fariñas described as “gangster type.”

READ: Imee Marcos denies anomalies in cash advances of tobacco funds

In calling for the probe, Fariñas alleged that about P66.45-million tobacco funds were used to purchase minicabs, buses and minitrucks for the different Ilocos Norte municipalities, even though the law – Republic Act 7171 – that imposed the tax on Virginia cigarettes states that the excise tax should be used for livelihood projects and infrastructure projects benefitting the tobacco farmers.

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