MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo and other officials of the Liberal Party (LP) slammed the move to abolish the agency tasked to recover the billions of pesos plundered during the Marcos dictatorship.
Robredo described the House of Representatives' passage of the bill as alarming. She said the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) was able to do its job of recovering ill-gotten wealth despite challenges.
"Sa mahigit tatlong dekada ng paghahabol ng PCGG sa tinagong yaman, mahigit P170 bilyong o 3.4 bilyong dolyar na ang kanilang nabawi. Maliit pa lang ito sa kabuoang estimate na 10 bilyong dolyar na nakaw na yaman ng mga Marcos. Nagawa nila ito sa kabila ng kaliwa't kanang paghahadlang sa kanilang mandato," Robredo said.
(In the more than 3 decades that the PCGG ran after the hidden wealth of the Marcoses, it has recovered P170 billion or $3.4 billion. This is still small compared to the estimated $10 billion worth of ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family. The PCGG was able to do it despite perennial challenges to its mandate.)
She also denounced the proposed transfer of the PCGG to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), headed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, a staunch Marcos supporter.
"Sa halip na mayroon tayong ahensyang nakatuon sa paghahabol ng ninakaw mula sa mga Pilipino, magiging bahagi na lamang ito ng napakarami pang trabaho ng OSG," Robredo said.
(Instead of having an agency focused on running after Filipinos' stolen money, it would just be part of the many functions of the OSG.)
"Dagdag rin sa ating pangamba na mauwi ang pagsasawasto ng naging kasalanan ng pamilyang Marcos sa sambayanang Pilipino sa kasalukuyang Solicitor General, na siyang nagtanggol sa harap ng Korte Suprema na dapat ilibing ang dating pangulong Marcos sa Libingan ng mga Bayani," she added, as she called on the public to be vigilant.
(We are also worried that correcting the sins of the Marcos family to the people would now fall under the current Solicitor General, who defended before the Supreme Court the hero's burial for former president Marcos.)
Erin Tañada, the LP's vice president for external affairs, said the PCGG's abolition would allow Calida to reverse the gains made during the PCGG's life span, including the recovery of some of the Marcoses' ill-gotten wealth.
"How can Calida fulfill his mandate of going after the Marcoses' ill-gotten wealth when he supported the vice-presidential bid of Marcos' son and namesake in [the 2016 elections]? Worse, Calida even defended President Rodrigo Duterte's order to give the late Marcos a hero's burial back in November 2016 before the Supreme Court," Tañada said.
Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, for his part, said the move is a ploy to revise history about the massive corruption of the Marcoses.
"This will institutionalize historical revisionism. Pilit na binabago ang kasaysayan sa pagkilos na ito (They are attempting to change history)," said Aquino.
"Kung talagang determinado ang gobyerno na labanan ang katiwalian, bakit nais nitong buwagin ang PCGG na siyang naghahabol sa nakaw na yaman ng pamilya Marcos?" he added.
(If the government is really keen on fighting corruption, why does it want to abolish the PCGG which is running after the Marcos family's ill-gotten wealth?)
Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat shared the same sentiment and said the country's history is "being shamed."
"It is not only the Constitution that is currently being besmirched. Our history is also being shamed. Why is it so seemingly easy to forget all about the abuses of the Marcos regime in the face of gaining more power? Until when would we let this happen?" Baguilat said.
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org