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.
Miguel De Guzman
No historical revisionism in PCGG abolition — Palace
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - May 18, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — 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-and-file 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. – With Jess Diaz, Delon Porcalla, Janvic Mateo, Evelyn Macairan

JOSE CALIDA OFFICE OF THE GOVERNMENT CORPORATE COUNSEL PANTALEON ALVAREZ PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT
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