No his­tor­i­cal re­vi­sion­ism in PCGG abo­li­tion — Palace

The Philippine Star - - NEWS - By ALEXIS ROMERO – With Jess Diaz, Delon Por­calla, Janvic Ma­teo, Eve­lyn Ma­cairan

The bill seek­ing to abol­ish the Pres­i­den­tial Com­mis­sion on Good Gov­ern­ment (PCGG) will not lead to his­tor­i­cal re­vi­sion­ism be­cause its func­tions – in­clud­ing the re­cov­ery of the Mar­coses’ ill-got­ten wealth – would be per­formed by the solic­i­tor gen­eral, Mala­cañang said yes­ter­day.

Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Harry Roque claimed there would be no ma­jor changes if the bill be­comes law be­cause Solic­i­tor Gen­eral Jose Cal­ida would as­sume the func­tions of the PCGG.

“There is no re­vi­sion­ism there be­cause all the tasks of the PCGG will be con­tin­ued by the Of­fice of the Solic­i­tor Gen­eral,” Roque said in a press brief­ing.

“Af­ter all, the cases that were based on the ev­i­dence gath­ered by the PCGG were filed by the Of­fice of the Solic­i­tor Gen­eral,” he added.

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Tues­day passed a bill abol­ish­ing the PCGG and the Of­fice of the Gov­ern­ment Cor­po­rate Coun­sel (OGCC) to strengthen the Of­fice of the Solic­i­tor Gen­eral, the top lawyer of the gov­ern­ment.

The bill, prin­ci­pally au­thored by Speaker Pan­ta­leon Al­varez, aims to con­sol­i­date the gov­ern­ment’s le­gal ser­vices and re­move over­lap­ping func­tions.

Hu­man rights ad­vo­cates and mar­tial law vic­tims have con­demned the pas­sage of the bill, say­ing it could lead to his­tor­i­cal re­vi­sion­ism and the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the Mar­coses.

For­mer Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights chief Loretta Ann Rosales lam­basted the mea­sure, say­ing it “adds in­sult to in­jury” and “rubs salt on the un­healed wounds of Mar­cos vic­tims.”

The Se­nate has yet to ap­prove a coun­ter­part mea­sure.

The PCGG was formed by for­mer pres­i­dent Co­ra­zon Aquino in 1986 shortly af­ter the EDSA Peo­ple Power Revo­lu­tion that ousted the late strong­man Fer­di­nand Mar­cos. The agency, which was cre­ated through Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der No. 1, is man­dated to re­cover the ill-got­ten wealth of the Mar­coses and their cronies.

Cal­ida had pre­vi­ously ar­gued for giv­ing a hero’s burial to Mar­cos. Cal­ida also cam­paigned for for­mer se­na­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos Jr. dur­ing the 2016 vice pres­i­den­tial race and was even de­scribed by Pres­i­dent Duterte as “pas­sion­ately pro-Mar­cos.”

Roque, how­ever, claimed that there would be no con­flict of in­ter­est if Cal­ida’s of­fice as­sumes the func­tions of the PCGG.

“There is none be­cause who­ever would be the po­lit­i­cal ap­pointee, the run­ning of the gov­ern­ment re­lies on the rank-and­file work­ers and the leg­is­la­tion seeks to pro­mote the ut­most pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the Of­fice of the Solic­i­tor Gen­eral,” the pres­i­den­tial spokesman said.

“I am con­fi­dent that many lawyers in the Of­fice of the Solic­i­tor Gen­eral are ded­i­cated to their job,” he added.

Mar­cos ally

Op­po­si­tion con­gress­men said yes­ter­day that Cal­ida is not qual­i­fied to go af­ter the Mar­coses and re­cover their al­leged ill-got­ten wealth be­cause he is an ally of the Mar­cos fam­ily.

They made the state­ment two days af­ter the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives ap­proved on third and fi­nal read­ing a bill trans­fer­ring the pow­ers of the PCGG and the OGCC to the OSG.

Al­bay Rep. Ed­cel Lag­man said the late pres­i­dent Co­ra­zon Aquino cre­ated PCGG un­der Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der No. 1 on Feb. 28, 1986 to re­cover the hid­den wealth of the Mar­coses, who had then fled to Hawaii, and their cronies.

He said Cal­ida could not be re­lied upon to do the re­cov­ery and pros­e­cute the Mar­coses.

“Cal­ida is a known Mar­cos ally like Pres­i­dent Duterte,” he said.

He also ques­tioned the wis­dom of the House de­ci­sion to give the OSG more pow­ers.

“As if caus­ing the re­moval of the chief jus­tice through an ir­reg­u­lar quo war­ranto pe­ti­tion is not enough ar­ro­ga­tion of power by Solic­i­tor Gen­eral Cal­ida, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives still gifted him with more ex­ten­sive and ex­panded pow­ers un­der Bill No. 7376,” Lag­man said. His op­po­si­tion col­league Tom Vil­larin of Ak­bayan asked: “How can we trust the OSG un­der Cal­ida who, af­ter lawyer­ing for a hero’s burial for a dic­ta­tor, plun­derer and hu­man rights vi­o­la­tor, be ex­pected to re­trieve the Mar­coses’ ill-got­ten wealth?”

He said clearly, the ap­proved bill “not only erases the Mar­coses’ bloody past, but also en­dan­gers the Filipinos’ fu­ture.”

He said the mea­sure ex­pand­ing OSG’s pow­ers is “an omi­nous sign of con­sol­i­dat­ing strong­man rule un­der a pow­er­ful body de­signed to ha­rass po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents in gov­ern­ment through quo war­ranto pe­ti­tions.”

Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Me­nardo Gue­varra yes­ter­day said that he is against the de­ci­sion of the House to abol­ish the PCGG and the OGCC.

Gue­varra said that while he re­spects the de­ci­sion of the House to abol­ish the PCGG and OGCC, he does not sup­port it.

“We re­spect the ac­tion of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. But we’ll main­tain our po­si­tion to keep PCGG and the OGCC un­der the wings of the DOJ (Depart­ment of Jus­tice),” Guev­erra said.

But since the mat­ter has yet to pass through the Se­nate, there is no sense of ur­gency at this time.

“It’s still not an im­me­di­ate is­sue. (There is) no coun­ter­part bill in the Se­nate,” the DOJ sec­re­tary added.

He has also not dis­cussed the bill with Duterte who could stop its pas­sage through a veto.

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