Ilocano tobacco farmers urge release of ‘Ilocos 6’

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Tobacco farmers in Ilocos Norte expressed their support for the release of six employees of the Provincial Government who were detained at the House of Representatives last May 29, following the third Congressional hearing about the province’s use of its Tobacco Excise Tax or Republic Act (RA) 7171.

The said fund was used to purchase farm vehicles that were then distributed to barangay farming communities.

Rallyists raise their placards and tarpaulins expressing support for the Governor and for the Ilocos 6.

From the Badoc Gateway and throughout other towns along the highway, farmers and other barangay folk met the House of Representatives’ North Luzon inspection trip with a welcome rally yesterday, June 2.

“Release the Ilocos 6!” “Mahalaga sa amin ang multicab na ito,” and “Sinusuportahan namin si Gov. Imee Marcos,” read some of their placards.

A crowd also waited in front of the Provincial Capitol.

Minutes before the Congressmen arrived, two green buses from Fariñas Transit, the bus line owned by the family of Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Rodolfo “Rudy” Fariñas, parked in front of the Capitol and blocked view of the protesters.

Punong Barangay Joseph Palafox from Badoc shared in Ilocano, “We are here to show our support for her and appreciation for projects she has given to the farmers,” such as water pumps, tractors, and kuliglig (vehicle in Northern Luzon composed of a two-wheeled tractor on front and two-wheeled trailer at the end).

Likewise Mr. Rogelio Ceredon, president of the Dingras Municipal Agriculture and Fisheries Council (MAFC), told interviewers, “Immaykami ditoy kas boluntario nga ipakita ti panangsuportami iti iningungutentayo a Gobernadora.” (Boluntaryo kaming naririto upang suportahan ang minamahal naming Gobernadora.)

Regarding the House inquiry, he said, “Ti panagkitami, naitungpal met dagita a naibunong para iti pagsayaatantayo.” (Sa tingin namin, naipamahagi naman iyong mga ‘yan para sa ikabubuti natin.)

The “Ilocos 6” are the six employees of the Provincial Government detained at the House of Representatives. They include members of the Local Finance Committee, whose approval is needed to authorize releasing of funds essential to day-to-day affairs of the Capitol.

These include the salaries of employees, “Saguip Nars” beneficiaries, and youth under the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES); subsidies for the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s gas vouchers; medicines for five provincial hospitals; and seed subsidies and other agricultural supplies needed with the onset of the rainy season.

Hence Ceredon urged, “No mabalin koma, isardengda dagita. Agpapadatay met amin nga Ilocano. Agkakammayettayo koma tapnu iti kasta, kas Ilocano, magun-odtayo.” (Kung pwede lang sana, tigilan na nila ‘yan. Pare-pareho naman tayong mga Ilocano. Magkaisa sana tayo nang sa ganoon, bilang mga Ilocano, maaabot natin.”

Palafox also added, “It’s [Governor Marcos’] last term already. The election period is not the only time we can show our support for her.”—PGIN-Communications & Media Office

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