Imee Marcos says Fariñas aide stole COA papers
An employee of Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas allegedly took the original copies of documents, which detailed Ilocos Norte’s tobacco fund expenditures, from the Commission on Audit (COA) office in Laoag City, Gov. Imee Marcos has said.
The employee and the congressman denied the governor’s claims.
Marcos, in a statement released by the province’s communications and media office, claimed that the documents were taken by Cynthia Gorospe, an employee and coordinator in Fariñas office.
To prove this, Marcos cited an affidavit by COA janitor, Pedro Gorospe Jr., an employee of the provincial treasury who was recently assigned to the provincial jail. He is the brother of Cynthia’s husband.
Marcos said: “Pedro [Gorospe] had confessed that he was compelled to steal the documents by Cynthia Gorospe…a trusted employee and coordinator of Congressman Fariñas.”
“He admitted he was an employee of the provincial government detailed at COA, worked as janitor and messenger, and aside from other duties, had access to COA,” she added.
The governor said Pedro was instructed by his sister-in-law, Cynthia, to photocopy the COA documents.
“According to Pedro, he was told to steal the documents from COA. So now we know who took them. How would I be able to produce the original documents?” she said.
The original documents could not be produced during the House inquiry into Ilocos Norte’s tobacco fund use on May 29.
During the inquiry, lawmakers ordered the House arrest and detention of the treasurer and five other employees of the Ilocos Norte government for refusing to answer their questions.
The Ilocos Norte government said the “Ilocos 6” had “requested to see the original documents before testifying, lest they commit perjury by giving sworn statements based on possible falsified photocopied documents.”
Cynthia Gorospe disputed Marcos’ statements.
“I did not steal the documents. I merely requested a photocopy of the vouchers [in 2013] because of a personal grudge against a coworker, Genedine Jambaro, who had been blatantly showing an extravagant lifestyle and I was not aware there were discrepancies in the documents,” she said.
She said the documents were returned immediately to COA. Jambaro, a cashier of the Ilocos Norte treasury, is one of the Ilocos 6.
Sought for comment, Fariñas called out Marcos for “coming up with a yarn” and shot back that “her people stole the original documents and now claim the loss of such as their alibi not to remember the transactions subject of the inquiry.”
“Really? Who’s using the loss of the originals as an alibi in not remembering the transactions under question?” he said.
Marcos said the original documents were turned over to COA and the agency was chastised for losing them. “But then this sworn affidavit suddenly turned up,” she said of Pedro Gorospe’s affidavit.
Fariñas initiated the inquiry through a House resolution after questioning the purchase of vehicles using the province’s share of the tobacco funds.
The Ilocos Norte communications office said Fariñas was present when these vehicles were distributed in 2011 and 2012. —Leilanie Adriano and Vince F. Nonato
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