MANILA (3RD UPDATE) - The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill seeking to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the agency tasked with recovering billions of dollars plundered by late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his allies.
Voting 162-10, lawmakers approved House Bill 7376 or the proposed "Office of the Solicitor General Charter" on third and final reading.
A counterpart bill from the Senate needs to be passed for the measure to be forwarded for bicameral consultations. A consolidated bill must then be finalized.
The bill also abolishes the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel and merges the two agencies with a stronger Office of the Solicitor General.
Principally authored by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the bill aims to eliminate the overlap of functions among government agencies, to consolidate state legal services into one office, and to effectively address the expanding needs of government-owned and –controlled corporations towards the improvement of fiscal management and good corporate governance.
It also intends to concentrate and enhance government efforts for the full and effective recovery of ill-gotten wealth and properties, including the efficient investigation and prosecution of cases.
Under the proposed law, the OSG shall be an independent and autonomous office attached to the Office of the President for budgetary purposes.
The bill was co-authored by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Deputy Speakers Gwendolyn Garcia and Sharon Garin, Deputy Majority Leader Arthur Defensor Jr., and Rep. Reynaldo Umali, among others.
Formed over three decades ago after the People Power revolution which toppled Marcos, the PCGG was tasked to recover around $10 billion looted by the dictator and his allies during his 20 years in power marked by massive corruption and abuse.
The agency has since recovered P170 billion or about $3.4 billion in ill-gotten wealth as well as jewelry, art, and other assets.
Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte said he was eyeing to replace the PCGG with an "anti-graft" agency.
Despite the death of the dictator in exile in Hawaii in 1989, his family has been making a political comeback in the Philippines with his widow, Imelda, and their children getting elected to office.
Duterte has openly supported the Marcos family, cheering on the Marcos son, Bongbong, in his failed bid for the vice-presidency last year.
The Marcos family is known to be grooming him for the presidency as well.
In November 2016, Duterte stunned the nation by allowing the body of the late dictator to be buried in the national Heroes' Cemetery despite a widespread outcry that his abuses and corruption exempt him from such an honor.
-- report from RG Cruz, Robert Mano, ABS-CBN News, and Agence France-Presse