MANILA — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla does not want to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) but wants to expand its mandate to go beyond recovering the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.
"There is of course the touchy issue, very sensitive issue of PCGG, an office created by law and by history to run after the family of our President, BBM and the Marcos family," Remulla said at a speech before a gathering of Rotary Club of M.anila members on Thursday.
"But after 36 years, things are beginning to simmer down. Most of the sequestered assets are already up there in the DOF (Department of Finance). But we don’t really want to abolish PCGG and I have suggested that we create an asset forfeiture office for those whose assets are seized by government for nonpayment of taxes, for drug trafficking, or for other crimes. We should have a central office where all the assets are deposited so that these can be properly accounted for," he said.
The PCGG, created under the very first executive order of former President Corazon Aquino as soon as she replaced the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. in 1986, was tasked to recover ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses whether located in the Philippines or abroad.
As of 2020, the PCGG was able to recover P174.2 billion in ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses but is still running after P125.9 billion more.
Explaining his position to reporters, Remulla said there’s a need to make the PCGG more "useful".
"It's 36 years after the fact. I don’t think we need to spend the next hundred years running after the Marcoses. I don’t think it's going to be that way. Might as well make good of something that’s there already, so shift the mandate to something useful for the country, and more urgent," he said.
Remulla said the Philippines currently has no central forfeiture asset office to handle seized smuggled items, drugs and properties from those convicted of graft and corruption.
"We have to have a central body so that we know how much we really get sa country from the proceeds of crimes that we are forfeiting in favor of the government and of the people," he said.
Remulla said he has not yet discussed this issue with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. because the discussion was still internal within the Department of Justice.
But he said it can start with an executive order and later, they will ask to pass a law to institutionalize the office.
The justice secretary rejected concerns expanding the functions of the PCGG will dilute its mandate.
"Naturally 36 years after, ano na yan eh, dwindling na yan eh, it will not increase, it will decrease, that’s the natural course of nature. Saan ka kukuha ng increase, wala namang makukuhang increase diyan, 'di ba?," he said, referring to assets recoverable from the Marcoses.
"So ang sinasabi lang natin, the training that PCGG got in managing assets, we might as well look into it so that the other assets forfeited by the government will have a management system. This will be a good one. It’s the time really for us to look at how we deal with the proceeds of crimes," he explained.
Moves to touch the PCGG had previously been controversial.
Former Solicitor General, now Commission on Audit chief, Jose Calida once sought to transfer the PCGG under the OSG but that move was met with objections, citing his support for the Marcos family.
A Marcos win in the May polls raised questions about the future of the PCGG, with former PCGG and Commission on Elections Chair Andres Bautista warning that the PCGG could be dissolved under a Marcos presidency.
Former PCGG Commissioner Ruben Carranza meanwhile warned Marcos will use to PCGG to take back assets being held by their cronies and returned to the Filipino people.
"This is not about recovering ill-gotten wealth but recovering money stolen by the Marcoses, held by Marcos cronies and now the Marcoses want that money in their pockets," he alleged.
The PCGG is administratively supervised by the DOJ.