MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III is open to "revisiting" the role of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the agency tasked to hunt the ill-gotten wealth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his family.
Pimentel, whose father was a staunch fighter of Marcos and Martial Law, said the PCGG should have achieved its objective after existing for 30 years
The agency was established by former president Corazon Aquino in 1986 after Marcos was overthrown. (READ: What you should know about the agency hunting Marcos' ill-gotten wealth)
"PCGG is a single function agency. I am open to revisiting the reason for its continued existence. Mga 30 years na po 'yang single objective niya. Dapat by this time, achieved na 'yan (Its single objective has been going on for 30 years. It should have been achieved by this time)," Pimentel told repoters in a text message.
"It makes one wonder, bakit 'di pa tapos? So puwede na ipasa 'yan sa ibang agency na hindi single function agency. The assumption is nasa tail-end na rin ang PCGG sa work nito after 30 years," Pimentel added. (Why is it not yet achieved? We can pass it to an agency that has no single function. The assumption is that the PCGG should be at the tail end of tis work after 30 years.)
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier said that the PCGG can already be abolished as it is not productive. The PCGG, however, attributed the delays to the "slow grind of the justice system, coupled by dilatory tactics employed by the defendants," specifically the Marcoses.
Malacañang has said that the Office of the Solicitor General could take on the functions of the agency. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has filed a bill seeking to put the PCGG under the OSG presently headed by Solicitor Jose Calida, a known Marcos supporter. (READ: In charge of recovering ill-gotten wealth? But Calida is pro-Marcos)
'We want to see accountability'
Senator Francis Escudero, for his part, called for a full inventory of all the assets the agency has sequestered before deciding on the PCGG's fate.
“It would be too much to bear to find out that recovered assets pilloried from the state is squandered the same by the agency tasked to run after it. We want to see accountability, as with any other government institutions," Escudero said in a statement.
"If there is failure to protect and preserve sequestered assets, then abolition this time may lead to the unintended consequence of hiding misdeeds committed by the agency in the past," said Escudero, citing a Commission on Audit report about 6 sequestered paintings that have gone missing since 2012.
In his second State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte asked Congress to pass the Rightsizing the National Government Act of 2017 to remove redundancies and overlapping functions in the executive branch.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, however, questioned if Congress should delegate its power to determine which offices may be abolished or merged to the executive.
"The real issue is, should Congress delegate its authority to the executive to determine which offices may be abolished or merged and the power to create other executive offices and departments without debate," Recto said.
“In its current version, we are giving the executive maybe too much powers,” he added.