Aguirre backs PCGG abolition

MANILA-- Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II echoed Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno's stand to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the agency tasked with recovering the billions of dollars plundered by former President Ferdinand Marcos and his allies.

In fact, Aguirre said the operations of PCGG, which is an attached agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ), have already started to end.

Hindi na magtatagal yan eh. Kung buwagin man 'yan tapos ipaabsorb samin, ganun na rin yan eh. Talagang nasa amin na. Naka-attach naman samin, he added.

Aguirre said that even the corporations under the PCGG are also winding up their operations.

Actually matagal-tagal na rin yan kasi yung PCGG corporations, yung under the supervision of PCGG matagal na yan. We are already for winding up na yang operations na yan. Halos matatapos na yan, even yung malalaking corporations, he told reporters.

Diokono said the plan to stop the operations of the PCGG was part of a bigger proposal to downsize the executive branch.

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, said Diokno.

Diokno was referring to was approved by the House of Representatives on third and final reading on Wednesday, two days after President Rodrigo Duterte's second State of the Nation Address, urged lawmakers to pass the measure.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte, House Majority Leader Rodolfo FariAas of Ilocos Norte and House justice panel Chairman Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro have filed House Bill 5233 seeking to abolish the PCGG and transfer all its authorities and responsibilities to the Office of the Solicitor General (osg).

The House Bills (HB) 5216 and 5233 seek to abolish the PCGG and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) as a separate statutory law offices and have its functions merged with the OSG.

The bill, which will become the OSG charter, proposes to authorize the solicitor general to grant immunity from criminal prosecution to any person who provides information or testifies in any investigation previously conducted by the PCGG or future cases investigated by the OSG involving ill-gotten wealth.

Currently, the OSG is attached agency under DOJ because offices providing legal services to the State. The government and the people are under the DOJ.

Diokno suggested that the PCGG functions may be absorbed by the DOJ.

The PCGG was set up three decades ago, just after a bloodless People Power revolt toppled Marcos, to recover the estimated $ 10 billion dollars looted by the dictator and his allies during his 20 years in power, which were marked by massive corruption and abuse.

The agency has since recovered P170 billion or about .4 billion in ill-gotten wealth as well as jewelry, art and other assets.

Last May 24, Solicitor General Jose C. Calida said that the proposed abolition of the two agencies would result in a leaner, cleaner government bureacracy in a bid to effectively address the people's urgent needs.

"Consolidating the legal services under the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) will eliminate redundant, duplicative and overlapping functions since the OSG, OGCC and PCGG only serve one client - the Republic of the Philippines," Calida said in a statement.

"The integration of the functions of the OGCC and PCGG will promote the use of alternative dispute mechanisms, avoid protracted court litigations, and encourage consistency in the legal position of government agencies," Calida further explained.

Source: Philippine News Agency