PCGG submits exit proposal to Malacañang

Posted on January 03, 2013

THE PRESIDENTIAL Commission on Good Government (PCGG)-- which is tasked to pursue alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses -- has submitted a draft bill to the Palace seeking to transfer its functions to the Justice and Finance departments as it prepares to end its three-decade existence.

“We filed a draft bill on winding down,” Andres D. Bautista, head of PCGG, said in a press conference yesterday at the commission’s offices in Pasig City, Metro Manila.

The commission, he added, has so far retrieved a total of 164 billion in Marcos assets.

Mr. Bautista said the PCGG’s functions in pursuit of ill-gotten wealth may be assumed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Office of the Solicitor General.

Nick V. Suarez, PCGG chief information officer, said in an interview the draft bill has been sent to the Palace in the “latter part of 2012” but the commission has not yet received feedback.

The draft bill, he said, recommended that the task of litigation be handled by the DoJ while the management of retrieved assets should be assigned to the Department of Finance.

“It would take another law to abolish the PCGG,” Mr. Suarez said, explaining that the commission was created through the powers of revolutionary government in the aftermath of the People Power Revolution that ousted Mr. Marcos.

Mr. Suarez said then president Corazon C. Aquino, the late mother of President Benigno S. C. Aquino III, acquired both Executive and Legislative powers that resulted in the executive order “taking the effect of a law.”

PCGG was created under Executive Order No. 1 issued on Feb. 28, 1986 “to assist the President in regard to... the recovery of ill-gotten wealth accumulated by former president Ferdinand E. Marcos... the investigation of cases of graft and corruption.”

Asked on the transition period, Mr. Suarez quoted Mr. Bautista as saying that two years would be “sufficient time” to wind down.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the President has yet to decide on the PCGG’s recommendations.

“Winding down of their operations is one of [PCGG’s] recommendations and this is just a recommendation which we have not discussed yet,” he said in a press briefing at the Palace yesterday.

“If the office is abolished by Congress, it does not mean the ill-gotten wealth cases will die,” he added.

A House bill seeking to abolish the PCGG and transfer its functions and powers to the DoJ is pending at the committee level.

Congress, meanwhile, is reconciling a bill that will compensate human rights victims during martial law from seized Marcos assets.

The measure -- currently being tackled at the bicameral conference committee -- states that human rights victims and legal heirs of deceased human rights victims “shall receive compensation from the state, free of tax.”

The source of compensation, according to the bills, will be the funds transferred to the government “by virtue of the December 10, 1997 Order of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, adjudged by the Supreme Court of the Philippines as final and executory in Republic vs. Sandiganbayan on July 15, 2003 as Marcos ill-gotten wealth and forfeited in favor of the Republic of the Philippines.”

“The amount of 10 billion plus the accrued interest thereon is hereby set aside and appropriated to fund the purposes of this act,” the Senate measure read.

The amount which are “presently held in escrow in connection with Civil Case No. 141 where the Supreme Court rendered judgment in favor of the Republic of the Philippines shall become the source of funds for the implementation of this act.”

The Philippines had complied with the first condition of the Swiss Court to declare the funds as ill-gotten with the Supreme Court decision in July 2003, while the second condition is the passage of an enabling law stating that a portion of the funds will be allocated for human rights victims during the Marcos regime. -- Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza and Noemi M. Gonzales