PCGG chief admits shortcomings in going after Marcoses

By Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 01 2011 01:26 AM | Updated as of Mar 02 2011 03:06 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Andy Bautista on Monday admitted that the agency had shortcomings in going after the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and their alleged cronies.

On the PCGG's 25th anniversary, Bautista said the agency "had good times and and we are here to come out clean. It's not all good things but we are to right the wrong." 
 
He was pertaining to the fiscal agents managing sequestered companies who have been accused of abusing their authority by overtraveling and making unliquidated cash advances.  
 
Bautista, however, stressed that they have recovered P93 billion, but cases involving P250-billion worth of assets are still pending in courts.
 
He admitted that some court cases have yet to be resolved after 25 years and that it would be difficult for them to find out now if the Marcoses have other hidden wealth.
 
"Wala namang nahahanap," he said, citing cases in Singapore and New York where the PCGG spent $10 million in legal costs for a $60-million case that has yet to begin trial. He thinks the case has been a waste of money.
 
Bautista, however, is optimistic that there are still ways to compensate victims of human rights abuses during the Marcos regime. 
 
He said the PCGG is now coordinating with Congress for a bill to compensate the human rights victims. 
 
When asked about a final settlement between the families of President Benigno Aquino III and Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Bautista said it is really up to the 2 parties to decide, adding that the Aquino family was one of the biggest victims of the Marcos regime.
 
He said if the President can forgive the Marcoses, then the Filipino people should also forgive them. 
 
When asked if the PCGG should be closed after all the Marcoses' ill-gotten wealth have been recovered, Bautista said he recommended to the President to have an "orderly winding down" of the agency.
 
It will involve the transfer of all 291 PCGG cases to the DOJ and its assets to the privatization assets management office of the Department of Finance. 
 
He said the assets that have yet to be recovered amount to P250 billion, most of which are assets of San Miguel Corporation and other transactions. 
 
Bautista estimates that Marcoses' wealth is worth between $5 billion to $10 billion. 
 
'Marcoses still in denial'
 
Bayan Muna party-list official Satur Ocampo, meanwhile, told ABS-CBN News that that the basic problem is that the Marcoses are not admitting that the former dictator violated human rights. 
 
He said they are in "denial mode." 
 
Ocampo said Imelda Marcos must have a say on the issue because she is supposedly the owner of the ill-gotten wealth. 
 
He added that the Marcos have to admit how much money they have. 
 
Ocampo said the universal final settlement proposed by the lawyer of human rights victims can only be possible if the Marcoses admitted they have ill-gotten wealth, and if they accepted the court decision that their father committed human rights violations. 
 
However, he is not confident that this will happen. Ocampo said the PCGG must continue to work on the cases to ensure that justice is served. 
 
Lawyer Jose Sison, meanwhile, believes that it is almost impossible that the Marcoses would be amenable to the proposed universal settlement. 
 
He said if they agree to it, it would mean that they have ill-gotten wealth. 
 
He thinks that there can't be an authentic settlement, if the Marcoses' position will not change. 
 
He also agrees that the government still has to recover a lot more money from the Marcoses.
 
Supreme Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez defines a universal settlement as an agreement that everyone is amenable to, and a settlement that would not reach the courts. 
 
The elements include: parties must agree; it must not violate laws; and it does not contradict public morals. 
 
He added that an admission is not necessarily present in a universal settlement because all they have to have is an agreement with the parties that do not violate any laws.
 
'Don't kill the PCGG'
 
University of the Philippines Professor Winnie Monsod, meanwhile, is hoping that the PCGG will have a small amount of success. She believes that the problem is that some people don't have the perseverance. 
 
"We have to get back what is stolen from the country," she said.
 
When asked about the $1,000 compensation fro human rights victims, Monsod said that all the money must be given to the people. 
 
"A lot of the cronies are getting away with murder because Imelda is claiming that it is hers. Ang kupad kupad! We have to show our perseverance .. until we get what we deserve. it was raped and it must come from the unexplained wealth!" she added.
 
Monsod said the PCGG's main objective is to get back the unexplained weeralth and it has not finished its job.  
 
"Don't kill it, get good people!" she said.