EDITORIAL - Closing shop
(The Philippine Star) - September 3, 2012 - 12:00am

Upon assuming the presidency of a revolutionary government in February 1986, the first executive order issued by Corazon Aquino created the Presidential Commission on Good Government. A month later, she issued Proclamation No. 3, providing for the issuance of freeze and sequestration orders on questionable assets. This indicated the urgency attached by the post-EDSA government to the hunt for the vast wealth believed stolen from the nation during the Marcos dictatorship.

In the so-called Freedom Constitution, the transitory provisions stated that Proclamation No. 3 should remain operative for no more than 18 months following the ratification of the Charter. This was way back in 1987. The Charter did provide that the 18 months could be extended by Congress, as certified by the President, “in the national interest.”

That national interest has lasted over two decades, and the PCGG is still around. None of the Marcoses ever went to prison for ill-gotten wealth or any other crime committed during the dictatorship, even if the amount of assets recovered cannot possibly be commensurate with the legitimate earnings of a Philippine president and his wife for 20 years.

The PCGG itself later became embroiled in scandals, with some of its officials linked to influence peddling and enjoying junkets overseas at taxpayers’ expense. With litigation over the real ownership of sequestered assets taking an eternity, board seats in PCGG-controlled companies became sinecures for cronies of those in power, and part of the system of political patronage.

After President Aquino assumed power and installed his own team in the PCGG, the new management was tasked not only to clean up the commission but also to prepare for its shutdown. Last week PCGG Chairman Andres Bautista announced that the agency is ready to close shop, with its employees already notified that they would have to find jobs elsewhere. The functions of the PCGG will be taken over by the Office of the Solicitor General.

In its 26 years of existence, the PCGG has managed to recover billions of pesos worth of assets accumulated during the Marcos regime, but the amount recovered is way below initial estimates. When it finally closes shop, the PCGG will not be missed.

AFTER PRESIDENT AQUINO ASSETS CHAIRMAN ANDRES BAUTISTA CORAZON AQUINO FREEDOM CONSTITUTION GOOD GOVERNMENT NONE OF THE MARCOSES OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL PCGG PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION PROCLAMATION NO
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