MANILA, Philippines—Senators on Wednesday called for a “full accounting and audit” of all sequestered assets of the Marcoses as they backed the proposed abolition of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).
While he called the decision to put an end to the nearly 30-year search for the so-called ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses a “wise move,” Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile said there should be an accounting of the assets sequestered by the government.
“Dapat usisain din yung operation ng PCGG noong mga nakalipas na administrator para malaman natin saan napunta yung mga assets na kinuha nila. Anong nangyari? (We should scrutinize the operation of the previous administrations of the PCGG to find out where did the sequestered assets go. What happened to them?” Enrile said in a phone patch interview with Senate reporters.
“Dapat may accounting e kagaya ng ginawa naming accounting sa coco levy, meron kaming record. Magkano yung nakolekta, magkano yung naiwan (There should be an accounting of these assets like what we did in coco levy. We have a record, how much was collected and how much was left)?” he pointed out.
Enrile lamented how the assets sequestered from the Marcoses were “wasted” and pocketed by some unscrupulous administrators of PCGG.
This was why the Senate leader backed the abolition of the commission, saying it was a “wise move” that should have been done a long time ago.
“Tama yun. Tama yung mungkahi ni Anding Bautista,” he said referring to the PCGG head.
“That’s a wise move. Dapat matagal nang dinissolve ’yang PCGG (The PCGG should have long been dissolved),” Enrile added.
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, echoed Enrile, as he also called for a full audit and accounting of the sequestered assets.
“We want a full audit and accounting of all the sequestered assets and its value at that time, especially those that have since been dissipated as well,” Escudero said in a separate statement.
“Present to the public the current value of its forfeited assets to address longstanding allegations against the PCGG that its officials helped squander the little assets the agency had recovered,” he said.
The senator said the PCGG should also make public all the compromise deals it has made in the past and how much the state gained or lost.
“The last thing we want to discover is a tale of the fabled loot being looted twice over,” he said.
Unlike Enrile, however, Escudero expressed disappointment over the PCGG’s decision to end the hunt for the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth.
“That it was difficult to recover the Marcos loot should not be an excuse if there was indeed a cause of action,” he said.
“Everybody agrees that the hunt and recovery was not going to be a walk in the park. But it’s disappointing that they are throwing in the towel now and saying that they can’t prove the case against the Marcoses anymore,” he pointed out.
Senator Joker Arroyo, in a separate statement, also backed the abolition of the PCGG, saying it was about time the PCGG work was transferred to the Department of Justice.
While the creation of the PCGG during the Cory Aquino administration was a “valid campaign and advocacy,” Arroyo noted that its mandate was “time-limited by the nature of the campaign.”
He noted how Congress had extended its life several times and how its mandate has run its course.
“It’s problematic whether the government can gather additional evidence after 26 years. The main task of the PCGG—to gather and build up cases—has been winnowed by time,” Arroyo said in a statement.
“Now the thrust of the work has become the humdrum of legal work essentially dealing with litigation. It is about time that the work is devolved to that Department of Justice,” he further said.