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House issues show cause order against ex-Cagayan officials

LAWMAKERS are one step away from ordering the detention of Cagayan provincial government officials for snubbing their hearing into the alleged open and massive distribution of cash and other forms of assistance to voters last year in violation of the campaign spending ban.

The joint House Committees on Public Accounts and on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms yesterday issued a show cause order directing two former Cagayan provincial government officials and executives of Bombo Radyo Tuguegarao to explain why they should not be cited for contempt and detained over their continued absence from a congressional probe on alleged vote buying and aid distribution covering the prohibited period from March 25, 2022 to May 9, 2022.

Ordered to explain were former Cagayan provincial administrator Darwin Sacramed, a retired military colonel; Dr. Carlos Cortina III, former provincial health officer of Cagayan; and Bombo Radyo officials.

The joint panel is looking into the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) alleged inaction on the vote-buying incidents while urging the Commission on Audit (COA) to conduct a special audit or fraud audit investigation into the illegal expenditures of the provincial government of Cagayan during the campaign period.

The inquiry was sponsored by Cagayan Rep. Joseph Lara, whose wife Zarah, lost to then reelectionist and now Gov. Manuel Mamba.

Mamba was cited in contempt on August 17 for his repeated non-attendance in the joint hearings and for “undue interference in the conduct of proceedings of the rules of the House” for refusing to issue travel authorities to the officials of Cagayan provincial government to attend the hearings.

Aside from Mamba, Cagayan provincial information officer Rogelio Sending was also cited for contempt and ordered to be detained.

Rep. Stephem Paduano (PL, Abang Lingkod), public accounts panel chair, warned Cagayan Provincial Police Director Colonel Julio Gorospe that he and his subordinates can also be cited in contempt for their failure to serve the subpoenas.

“We can cite you in contempt for undue interference because this is now the seventh hearing,” the lawmaker told Gorospe. “This has been going on for so many months.