A GOVERNMENT agency, which is 29 years old going 30, has yet to wind up the litigation of illegally gotten wealth that the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos and his associates allegedly accumulated during his term.
The 21-year rule of President Marcos began in 1965 and ended in 1986. His reign included nine years of martial law from September 1972 to 1981. His accidental successor formed the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), which could be seen as an act of revenge against his martial law.
If a people’s revolt in February 1986 toppled President Marcos, how about PCGG’s sequestration regime when there is nothing more to sequester? Will PCGG ever relinquish its task to its mother unit, which is the Department of Justice?
It appears that PCGG officials are not about to give up their domain as the agency is taking time in winding up its affairs by getting involved in protracted litigation. Could this be their way of prolonging their stay in what should be only a temporary presidential assignment, albeit with more than a million pesos in annual compensation that could have made them multi-millionaires over the years?
Incidentally, creating the PCGG was the first official act of the late President Corazon Aquino, mother of Malacañang’s present temporary chief occupant.
Pay and perks
(Note: Due Diligencer is using COA data on salaries of government officials for 2013 because www.coa.gov.ph has no compensation posting yet for 2014.)
What keeps government top officials in office? Is it the pay? Is it the prestige of being called public servants?
Because Due Diligencer does not have the answers, let the numbers speak for themselves. For an illustration, here is the payroll of the PCGG chairman as head of the five-person sequestration body.
As PCGG chairman, Juan Andres Bautista received P385,521 in four months in 2010, or P96,380 per month, when he and his fellow commissioners took over the agency from the PCGG appointees of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. For the year 2013, his pay and perks totaled P1.71 million or P142,546 per month. This means in less than three years, he got a total pay raise of P46,166 per month, or 47.9 percent.
World getting bigger
Bautista was dean of the school of law of Far Eastern University before he was tapped by Malacanang’s chief casual resident to head PCGG. As PCGG chairman, he is tasked with protecting the interest of government over privately owned assets sequestered by his predecessors.
Bautista must have found in PCGG a “little kingdom” but which he could not call his own. His agency is not an independent body — although a presidential creation — but is under DOJ jurisdiction. This makes him a subordinate of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. Is he? Due Diligencer would expound on this in another piece.
It is time to move on. Five years is too long for Bautista to focus on his tiny kingdom. It is up to the majority stockholders of companies where a certain block of shares is under sequestration to judge him and his leadership at PCGG. After all, PCGG made the government only a minority stockholder in most of these stock corporations.
Even if PCGG commissioners, including the chairman, want themselves to get directly involved in the management, they could not. The government nominees they elect to the board of these companies using sequestered shares of stock mostly represent only minority holdings.
The chairmanship of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) then came up for grabs. Bautista happened to be among Malacanang’s loyalist members of the yellow tribe. His appointment to the top position at the election body makes him a power to reckon with during election season that happens in this country every three years.
Again, the question that begs for an answer is: Are Malacanang appointees after the money or after power? Dirty and corrupt politicians not only yearn for money but also crave for power. They need both incentives to ensure the success of their political career.
But politicians are aware that in their search for success in politics, they know they have to contend with the most powerful force that checks on them. That powerful force happens to be the Comelec chairman.