War over PCGG: Bam sees 'historical revisionism' behind PCGG abolition move

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 16 2018 11:09 AM

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MANILA - A move to abolish the government body tasked to run after the ill-gotten wealth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos could be a part of a wider scheme to revise history, Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV said Wednesday.

Speaking to ANC's Headstart, the senator said the mission of the Presidential Commission on Good Government is not yet over as there is still Marcos money to recover.

Instead of abolishing the PCGG, the government should actually strengthen it, Aquino said.

Christie's and Sotheby's auction house appraiser David Warren examines diamond jewelry seized by the Philippine government from Imelda Marcos at the Central Bank headquarters in Manila on November 24, 2015. Noel Celis, AFP

"I think what we need to do is strengthen the PCGG. They need to do more of their job. Marami pang pera na hindi pa nahahabol, maraming bank accounts pa ang pinag-uusapan na hindi pa nakukuha ng Philippine government. They need to do a better job, but again, maybe the task is not to abolish them, but to strengthen them," he said.

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.

But it is still working to find millions more, including 200 pieces of art by masters like Michelangelo and Picasso, alleged to have been purchased by the Marcos family.

Specialists from Christie's examine the confiscated jewelry of former First Lady Imelda Marcos during an appraisal authorized by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas headquarters in Manila.Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier questioned the need for the PCCG, saying the latter should have been "an ad hoc agency."

"They (the PCGG staff) enjoy things because they have so many perks," he remarked.

Aquino, nephew of Marcos' staunch critic, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr, said the law creating PCGG was the "first piece of paper that actually said that there is ill-gotten wealth."

"Baka 'yun 'yung isang rason bakit gustong tanggalin ang PCGG, para mabura sa ating kasaysayan na merong nakaw na yaman ang mga Marcos," he told ANC's Headstart.

(That might be one reason why they want to remove the PCGG, to erase our history that the Marcoses had stolen wealth.)

"This could be part of historical revisionism again. Baka gustong baguhin na naman 'yung ating kasaysayan sa move na ito," he said.

(This could part of historical revisionism again. Some might want to change our history with this move.)

He said there is no counterpart Senate bill to support the abolition of the agency after the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading a bill abolishing the agency.