June 28, 2017| Wednesday
The Ilocos Norte Provincial board on Tuesday declared House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas persona non grata, a move that local officials made as the House of Representatives continued to hold six provincial officers for their alleged refusal to cooperate in an inquiry that the Ilocos lawmaker had initiated.
It is the latest episode in a political war between Fariñas, a long-time Ilocos politician, and Ilocos Governor Imee Marcos, who are seen headed for a showdown in the next elections.
Seven members of the provincial board supported Board Member Toto Lazo's resolution to declare Fariñas unwelcome in his home province.
Lazo said Fariñas did not follow the rule of law when he accused the capitol of misusing P66.4 million in tobacco excise tax funds to acquire vehicles more than five years ago. He also questioned the move to detain six provincial officers for failing to answer questions at the House inquiry.
The House committee on good government and public accountability cited the six in contempt for "refusing to answer questions" and being "evasive" at the hearing.
The House has refused to let go of the detained officers despite a release order from the Court of Appeals.
Those who supported Lazo's resolution were Da Vinci Crisostomo, James Paul Nalupta, Mariano Marcos, Paul Baltazar, Donald Nicolas, Ramon Gaoat and Rogelio Balbag.
Board members absent at the session were Fariñas' daughter Ria, Conrado Respicio, Domingo Ambrocio, and Matthew Manotoc, the governor's son.
The copy of the resolution will be forwarded to the Office of the President, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
Fariñas dismissed the board resolution, saying it would not affect his constituency work in the province. He also asserted his standing as an elected official and a citizen.
"I am a citizen of this country and no one, especially Sangguniang Panlalawigan members, can declare me, or any other citizen of this country, a persona non grata," he said when sought for comment.
"Not even convicted criminals are declared as such. I am the duly elected representative of the first district of Ilocos Norte,and the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives," he added.
He said he would file a case against eight provincial officials who approved the declaration.
"It [declaration] would only affect those who voted for such as I will file cases against them for damages for the violation of my constitutional rights, as well as for a violation of the Anti-Graft & Corrupt Practices Act for causing me undue injury thru evident bad faith," said the lawmaker.
Parameters of the declaration has yet to be clarified, but Fariñas cited the definition of persona non grata as being ostracized. Such a person is culturally shunned, so as to be figuratively non-existent.
"That is what those eight have done to me!," he said.
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