‘Ilocos 6’ reunited with kin
LAOAG CITY — Emotions ran high on Wednesday when five of the so-called “Ilocos 6” returned home and were reunited with their families.
Detained for 55 days at the office of the House sergeant at arms in the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, Pedro Agcaoili, head of the provincial and planning development office and chair of its bids and awards committee; Josephine Calajate, provincial treasurer; Eden Batulayan, accountant; Evangeline Tabulog, provincial budget officer; and Genedine Jambaro and Encarnacion Gaor, cashiers, have yet to report for duty at the Ilocos Norte capitol.
They were held in contempt for refusing to answer questions during a House inquiry into alleged anomalies involving the expenditures of the province’s tobacco fund shares.
The six employees were released on Tuesday when Gov. Imee Marcos attended the investigation conducted by the House committee on good government.
Calajate was still in Manila. Her neighbors at Barangay Gabut Norte said they could not wait to see her. “She comes from a good family. We are grateful [all six] we’re set free,” they said.
Fe Siazon, the provincial government’s human resources management officer, said the six employees filed a leave of absence on May 26-29 but they notified her office that they needed an extension, which was approved by acting Gov. Eugenio Angelo Barba.
A number of government programs and projects were delayed because of the absence of the six employees, according to Jun Arvin Gudoy, head of the provincial communication and media office.
“We are very happy that our co-employees, friends and mentors here at the capitol are finally sent home to their own families,” he said.
Some provincial government employees and residents have been hoping for a peaceful end to an apparent feud being waged by Marcos and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas.
Fariñas had initiated the investigation into the purchase of vehicles using tobacco fund shares under Marcos’ term.
“The feud has become a big embarrassment for Ilocos Norte. This should serve as a wake-up call for everyone to follow the proper procedure and be transparent in government transactions as much as possible. I hope everybody have learned their lessons,” said an employee, who asked for anonymity.
Ilocano migrants from Ilocos Norte also expressed concern over the controversy affecting their home province.
Ric Agnes, a native of Sarrat town who is now based in Hawaii, said it was “very unusual for Ilocanos to humiliate fellow Ilocanos.”
“If the issue has something to do with politics, the six employees should not be sacrificed. Just wait for election and let the people decide,” he said.
“Assuming these employees were guilty, why don’t [they] just file a case in court against them? Then, if it’s in aid of legislation, then they should just legislate to correct what is wrong rather than pressuring or threatening people.” —Leilanie Adriano
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