DoJ, Solicitor General to take over agency’s functions
MALACAÑANG on Thursday backed the planned abolition of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the agency tasked to recover the ill-gotten wealth of former president Ferdinand Marcos, insisting there was no politics behind it.
In a news conference, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said the proposed PCGG abolition was driven by the need to streamline government.
“It’s a question of streamlining. There’s no politics there,” Abella told reporters.
“Let me stress, it’s not a political question, it’s a question of streamlining and being able to consolidate functions so that there will be no overlap,” he added.
Abella made the statement a day after Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno bared that the administration was mulling the dissolution of the PCGG.
Diokno said the abolition could happen with the passage of the “Rightsizing the National Government Act of 2017,” one of the bills President Rodrigo Duterte had identified as priorities of his administration in his second State of the Nation Address.
“There are many specific recommendations for policy actions under the rightsizing bill. One such proposal is to abolish the PCGG and to transfer its remaining activities to the Department of Justice,” Diokno said on Wednesday.
Based on government records, the PCGG has been able to recover $4 billion of the estimated $10 billion ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses, since it was formed in 1987 by the administration of President Corazon Aquino.
Justice dep’t, SolGen to take over
Abella was confident the Justice department and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) would be able to devote enough attention to recovering ill-gotten Marcos wealth alongside other cases.
“Actually the Office of the Solicitor General, handles the cases filed to run after the Marcos ill-gotten wealth, while the PCGG actually handles the administrative function,” he said.
“So based on their proposal, the OSG can also handle the administrative functions as well,” the Palace official added.
Aside from PCGG, Duterte had threatened to abolish the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
The commission, however, is an agency created by the 1987 Constitution and cannot be abolished even by legislation.
Abella said the President’s threat was borne out of his anger at the apparent “biases” of the rights body.
“He’s actually expressing his frustrations regarding the CHR. However, it is a constitutional commission and it cannot be abolished by mere legislation. The chairperson and his members however serve at the pleasure of the President,” he said.
PCGG hits back at Diokno
The PCGG on Thursday hit back at the Budget secretary for accusing it of being non-performing, pointing out that the commission had raised revenues for the government.
“PCGG is surprised at the recent questions regarding its performance, relevance, and efficiency. Aside from the fact that it was awarded as the best DOJ [Department of Justice] performing agency for three straight years, what other government agency can effectively raise non-tax revenues?” the PCGG said in a statement.
“Why is there a question on its budget and relevance when PCGG’s cost-to-recovery ratio is exemplary as shown by these numbers? Of all agencies? Figures do not lie,” the commission said.
Lawmakers from the militant Makabayan bloc also criticized the plan, claiming it was meant to “sanitize” the Marcoses.
“The mandate of the PCGG is take back the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos. Their work is not yet done. There’s a lot of ill-gotten wealth to recover. When will President Duterte stop paying his debt of gratitude to the Marcoses?” said Rep. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna.
Rep. Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list said: “We need to make people accountable, including the Marcoses. We cannot just move on without justice being served.”
WITH LLANESCA T. PANTI AND NEIL A. ALCOBER