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House bill seeks PCGG abolition; functions transferred to DOJ

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
House bill seeks PCGG abolition; functions transferred to DOJ
This April 2019 photo was taken when a settlement deal on the Marcos family's ill-gotten assets was approved by the Office of the President, the PCGG, and the New York federal judge.
The STAR / Boy Santos, File

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker has filed a measure seeking to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government, the government agency created in 1986 to reclaim ill-gotten wealth from the Marcos family and its cronies during the Martial Law regime.

In filing House Bill No. 4331, Rep. Benny Abante (Manila, 6th District) argued that the PCGG has “not produced significant accomplishment [and] has outgrown its usefulness.”

But in its 2020 Annual Report, the PCGG reported the recovery of a total of P174.2 billion since its establishment in 1986 until December 31, 2020. In the same accomplishment report, PCGG said it has an estimated P99.678-billion value of assets under litigation as of end of 2020.

“The abolition of the PCGG does not mean that the recovery of plundered wealth and its proper disposition will no longer be pursued,” Abante — a pastor — reasons in his explanatory note.

Should the measure pass, the functions of the PCGG will be passed to the Department of Justice headed by Marcos Jr. appointee,  Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla.

Under the proposed measure, all sequestered real and personal assets and properties previously under the PCGG and all records and documents on its operations are transferred to the Privatization Office of the Department of Finance.

The bill also calls for a “physical inventory and complete accounting of the sequestered properties and assets” in coordination with the Commission on Audit headed by Marcos loyalist Jose Callida.

READ: Justice chief Remulla wants PCGG functions expanded

Remulla in July of this year said that his department intends for the government to retain the PCGG to allow it to complete its recovery of some P125-billion in stolen wealth that still remains unseized to this day.

Most recently, the PCGG during the campaign trail before the May 2022 elections said that a Special Audit Tax Team from the BIR determined the following tax liabilities owed by the Marcos family in 1991:

  • Deficiency Estate Tax Assessment against the Estate of Ferdinand Marcos in the amount of P23,293,607,638.
  • Deficiency Income Tax Assessments against Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos in the aggregate amount of P184,159,289.70 for the years 1985 to 1986
  • Deficiency Income Tax Assessment against Ferdinand Marcos Jr [for the years] 1982 to 1985 in the aggregate amount of P20,410.

When a similar measure was proposed in 2018, former CHR chair Etta Rosales said that it gives “undue strength to [then-Solicitor General Jose] Calida [who] in turn, is accountable only to the President.” That same bill sought to hand the PCGG’s powers to the Office of the Solicitor General, headed by Calida at the time.

“Calida is known to kiss the ground where Marcos used to walk and showed this with unabashed passion in pushing for the burial of Marcos on grounds meant for heroes and honest soldiers,” she said in a statement then.

“The bill thus adds insult to injury, rubs salt on the unhealed wounds of Marcos victims if it puts the duty of running after ill-gotten Marcos wealth in the hands of a blind Marcos loyalist like Calida…the bill paves the way for consolidating despotic rule under one man.”

During his campaign, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. meanwhile has earlier said he aims to either strengthen or turn the PCGG into an anti-corruption agency. — with a report from Kristine Joy Patag

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT

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