Aguirre flip-flops on PCGG abo­li­tion

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - NEWS - By Mar­lon Ramos @MRamosINQ

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.

Com­plete turn­around

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.”

Bold state­ments

“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

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