Aguirre flip-flops on PCGG abolition
Did Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II make another 180-degree turn?
Often criticized for flip-flopping on several issues, Aguirre contradicted himself again as he threw his weight behind the proposed abolition of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the state agency created to recover some $10 billion in public funds embezzled by the Marcos family.
Barely two months after expressing his opposition to the plan, the justice secretary shared the opinion of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno that the Department of Justice (DOJ) could carry out the PCGG’s mandate.
Besides, he said the PCGG, an attached agency of the DOJ, and some of the sequestered corporations it had been operating were already wrapping up their operations.
“Actually, corporations under the supervision of the PCGG have been operating for quite some time. We are already for winding up their operations, even the big corporations,” Aguirre told reporters.
“They won’t last long anyway. If the [PCGG] would be abolished and absorbed by [the DOJ], there will be no difference because it’s actually an attached agency,” he said.
Aguirre’s remarks were a complete turnaround from his previous opinion in a position paper he sent to the House of Representatives regarding two proposed bills seeking to dissolve the PCGG and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC).
Last week, Diokno said the move to stamp out the PCGGwas part of the Duterte administration’s goal to cut down the government’s expenses by downsizing the executive branch.
In objecting to the planned abolition, Aguirre pointed out that transferring the PCGG’s mandate to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), as contained in House Bills No. 5216 and No. 5233, was unconstitutional.
“The Constitution provides that ‘every bill passed by the Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof.’ The Constitution does not allow the insertions of riders in legislation, a rider being a provision which is alien or not germane to the subject or purpose of the bill in which it is incorporated,” read a part of Aguirre’s position paper.
In addition, he said the proposed setup might lead to conflict of interest on the part of the OSG, noting there had been several cases where the OGCC and the OSG “find themselves representing opposing sides with conflicting interests.”
“This department sees nothing wrong with the OSG, OGCC and PCGG existing independently of each other. In order to strengthen the OSG, there is no need to abolish the OGCC and the PCGG,” he said.
Aguirre, arguably one of President Duterte’s most controversial aides, had been making bold statements and accusations against some of the Presi- dent’s critics, only to retract them later after getting strong public criticism.
Last month, he claimed that opposition Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Bam Aquino met with members of the Lucman and Alonto clans a few days before the Islamic Statelinked Maute terror group laid siege to Marawi City on May 23.
After the personalties he tagged in the supposed plot showed evidence disproving his claims, the justice secretary was forced to take back his accusations and blamed the media for allegedly misquoting him.
This earned him the tag “Fake News King” from youth groups, which brought a complaint against him to the Office of the Ombudsman.
Vitaliano Aguirre II