MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte revealed his plans to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government, an agency tasked to recover ill-gotten wealth from the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his allies.
In a speech at Malacañang Tuesday, Duterte said he is eyeing to replace the PCGG with an "anti-graft" agency. He said he is currently looking for someone to lead it.
"Gusto ko tanggalin pero baka sabihin naman ng mga tao, on the verge of discovering something, 'kaya binuwag na tuloy ang PCGG.' But I will create another office," he said in front of new presidential appointees.
The President said he is eyeing a lady not identified with him or "the other group" to lead the agency that will replace the PCGG but he doubts she will take the offer.
The PCGG was set up after a bloodless "People Power" revolt toppled Marcos, to recover the estimated $10 billion looted by the dictator and his allies during his 20 years in power which were marked by massive corruption and abuse.
The agency has since recovered 170 billion pesos or about $3.4 billion in ill-gotten wealth as well as jewelry, art and other assets.
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier questioned the output of the PCGG since it was created three decades ago. "They don't do anything. What do they do?" he said.
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, 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 exempted him from such an honor.
Bonifacio Ilagan, spokesman of anti-Marcos group Carmma, said the planned abolition of the PCGG was likely part of a wider scheme to help Bongbong Marcos get elected.
"Before we know it, we will wake up one day and Bongbong wins the elections and the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses is secured," Ilagan, who was detained under Marcos, told AFP.
Although a law would be required to abolish the PCGG, Diokno said the Duterte administration was drafting a bill allowing it to do away with government offices like the commission as part of a streamlining process.
Diokno expressed confidence the bill would be passed as key leaders of Congress, controlled by Duterte allies, have declared their support.
He questioned why the PCGG was still around after 30 years, saying it should have been "an ad hoc agency."
"They (the PCGG staff) enjoy things because they have so many perks," he remarked. With Agence France Presse