MANILA (1st UPDATE) - Malacañang said the reported proposal to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) has not yet been discussed with President Aquino.
But Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda stressed and clarified that even if the PCGG is abolished, the goal to recover the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth will continue.
Lacierda said the proposal “is not something new” pointing out that the PCGG had already proposed its abolition in early 2011, as cited in a PCGG report posted on its website.
“’Yung winding down [of] operations nila, one of their recommendations—and this is just a recommendation which we have not discussed yet—is that the assets—and to show that they have substantial number of assets that they were able to recover—was going to be turned over to the Department of Finance; and then with the pursuit of the ill-gotten wealth cases—assuming that the Congress would abolish the PCGG is that the ill-gotten wealth cases will be transferred to the Department of Justice,” Lacierda said.
“So tuloy pa po ang ating mandato—kung hindi sa PCGG—tuloy pa rin po ‘yung pagtugis sa mga ill-gotten walth cases. Kasi pending ngayon ‘yun e. Assuming… the office is abolished by Congress, it does not mean the ill-gotten cases will die. It has to be pursued and doon sa recommendations ng PCGG—again let me emphasize it has not been discussed with the President yet—nandoon po kung sino ang aako ng mga trabahong ‘yun.”
The government expects the DOJ to capably handle cases on the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth if the recommendation for the PCGG’s abolition is approved.
Lacierda does not agree, however, that the PCGG failed in its mandate to recover the Marcos wealth.
“It’s so sweeping naman to say it’s a failure. Maami rin naman sila na-recover na ill-gotten wealth. That’s why we would like to invite you to look at the (PCGG) report itself,” he said.
De Lima: PCGG abolition needs thorough review
Meantime, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said there is a need to review the performance of the PCGG before a decision on whether to abolish the agency is be arrived at.
This statement came amid reports PCGG chairman Andres Bautista has proposed to Malacanan that the agency should cease its operations and transfer its work to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
"There is a need to review the performance [of the PCGG] -- saan nagkulang... lapses... bakit some of the big cases hindi nakarecover [ill gotten wealth] at nakakuha ng favorable ruling," De Lima said.
Bautista was quoted as saying there is difficulty in attempts to recover more than half of the $10 billion Marcos fortune with the Marcoses now occupying key public positions. Former First Lady Imelda Marcos is now a congressional representative, while her children, Ferdinand Jr. and Imee, are Senator and Ilocos Norte Governor, respectively.
De Lima said several factors may have blocked the PCGG in efforts to recover the rest of the so-called Marcos ill-gotten wealth because of "adverse" rulings in its prosecution of cases filed before the courts.
De Lima said the DOJ is ready to continue the work of the PCGG should its abolition be finalized. Pres. Aquino shares the view that the PCGG should, at some point, wind down its work, she said.
"Mindset ni PNoy [Pres. Aquino], hindi dapat tumagal ang PCGG. Kung may residual [work] pa na gagawin, the PCGG should turn it over sa competent agency. If it's DOJ, we can assume it," De Lima said. "Hindi naman pwede na it [PCGG] exists forever; the nature of its mandate, it has limited lifetime, sumobra na nga," she added.
The PCGG was created by former Pres. Corazon Aquino to recover supposed ill-gotten wealth accumulated during the Marcos regime. Its creation was the first executive issuance of Mrs. Aquino upon her assumption into office in 1986.