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LIFE AFTER PCGG

Hunt for Marcos ‘loot’ to continue

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04:55 AM January 4th, 2013

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Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Even as people continue to debate the issue of abolishing the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), Malacañang on Thursday said the agency that was created to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos had to be abolished eventually.

But it would be up to Congress to determine the appropriate time for it, said presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.

Going by President Corazon Aquino’s Executive Order No. 1 which created the commission, the PCGG was “never meant to be a permanent institution,” Lacierda said.

“Why? Because at a certain point, all cases will be filed, all cases will be decided,” he said.

PCGG Chair Andres Bautista ignited a minor controversy when he announced on New Year’s Day that he had recommended to President Aquino that the government wind down the PCGG’s operations, which some quarters interpreted as giving up on the recovery of the Marcos ill-gotten loot and the prosecution of the dictator’s family and his cronies.

DOJ to take over

 

Lacierda said Bautista recognized the fact that “at some point, all the cases will be transferred to the Department of Justice, and I’m sure the DOJ will be more than prepared to handle the cases.”

But the Office of the President would have to first study Bautista’s recommendation, he said.

Lacierda also said it would be up to Congress to determine whether the time is right for legislation to abolish the PCGG.

“There’s a transition process and the ill-gotten wealth cases will continue,” he said.

Lacierda stressed that the government would continue to pursue the ill-gotten wealth cases against the Marcos family and associates even if the PCGG is abolished.

“The cases which are now pending before the various courts are going to continue. The party in interest is the Republic of the Philippines and, therefore, even if assuming any recommendation will be acted favorably by the President—and I’m saying this only as an assumption—the cases will still continue,” he said.

Further study

 

He said the President had ordered a further study of Bautista’s recommendation, which he made in 2011, to wind down the PCGG’s operations, transfer its work to the Department of Justice and its assets to the Department of Finance.

He said he had no knowledge of the Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s disclosure that the

President was inclined to abolish the PCGG.

“The (Office of the President) is still studying that recommendation. There are a number of details that need to be vetted,” he said.

Lawyer Frank Chavez, who was Solicitor General when the first Aquino administration began its pursuit of the Marcos ill-gotten wealth, supports the idea of abolishing PCGG but said its work should be transferred to his former office.

“It should be given back to the Office of the Solicitor General,’’ Chavez said in a text message.

He said he had advocated for the abolition of the PCGG 10 years ago.

“But the search and fight for the recovery of the Marcos loot should continue otherwise the fight against corruption would be useless and meaningless,’’ Chavez said.

Crocodiles in the gov’t

 

“All the crocodiles in government should just henceforth be left alone,’’ he said.

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said the DOJ should form a special unit that will continue the hunt for the ill-gotten Marcos wealth.

If the PCGG cases are transferred to the DOJ, “there should be a special unit that will handle the cases 24/7,” he said.

Guingona, who chairs the blue ribbon committee, the panel on the accountability of public officers, said he would make sure that “government won’t just abandon pending cases to the prejudice of the party litigants.” With a report from Christine Avendaño

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