TOP officials from two major government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC) believe that corporations and taxpayers stand to lose more if the government will abolish the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC).
The House of Representatives earlier proposed the abolition of the OGCC and transferring its powers to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
Pearl Sagmit, Clark Development Corporation vice president for legal affairs, said the Clark Development Corporation supported the continued existence of the OGCC.
Sagmit stressed that scrapping the OGCC would result in the loss of a specialized unit that had the experience and expertise to properly address the legal requirements of GOCCs.
The OGCC, as the CDC’s statutory legal counsel, “works hand in hand with the CDC in addressing a wide range of issues related to CDC’s performance of its proprietary functions within the Clark Freeport Zone. CDC is but one of hundreds of dynamic and active GOCCs under the OGCC, whose specialized functions makes it possible for GOCCs to work efficiently and effectively,” Sagmit said.
“With the Duterte administration going full speed ahead on developing Clark as a world class destination, CDC anticipates continued growth and investment, and even more complex legal needs. Now, with the country growing at an unprecedented pace and GOCCs part of that development, we believe that we need the OGCC more than ever,” the CDC officer explained.
Philhealth Vice President for Legal Sector Germain Lim said the abolition of the OGCC would not aid the government’s streamlining efforts.
Citing Philhealth’s current cases against the Commission on Audit (COA), Lim said if the OSG were to absorb the functions of the OGCC and represent Philhealth, the agency would most likely require the retention of external counsel to avoid conflict of interest issues, entailing additional expenses for Philhealth.
“Even if the OSG would allow Philhealth to engage external counsel to represent it in its COA cases, it would mean that Philhealth would have to unnecessarily incur additional expense for external counsel,” Lim said.
Lim said the fact that the OSG wanted to acquire the OGCC’s powers was proof that the two offices had different powers and that there was no redundancy between the two agencies.
“There is no duplication of functions between the OGCC and the OSG as they have different mandates and serve different clientele. As there is no duplication of functions and the government would stand to spend more to implement the proposed consolidation of the OSG and OGCC, then the proposed measure is clearly inconsistent with the government’s streamlining policy,” Lim explained.
Lawmakers made the same observation last month when the Senate tackled proposals to strengthen the OSG Charter and abolish the OGCC and the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).
Questioned by Senators Richard Gordon and Franklin Drilon, Department of Budget and Management Director Gerald Janda said the OSG would require an additional P845 million to fund the creation of 20 divisions necessary to absorb the functions of the OGCC and PCGG. Janda also confirmed that the combined budgets of the OGCC and PCGG is approximately P245 million.
Janda said the OSG would require a total of P1.8 billion if it were to take on the responsibilities of both the OGCC and PCGG.
The figure is roughly double the OSG’s 2018 budget of P939.6 million, and P700 million more than the total combined 2018 budgets of the OSG, OGCC, and PCGG.
Additional funding would also be required for the separation and retirement pay of OGCC and PCGG personnel who would be affected by the two agencies’ abolition, Janda said.