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PCGG should not escape President Duterte’s attention

column-Cecilio T. Arillo-DATABASEIN the 475 days since the late President Corazon C. Aquino created the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) on February 28, 1986, up to July 26, 1987, the last day of her revolutionary government, the PCGG sequestered more than 800 corporations, subsidiaries and other suspected ill-gotten wealth worth billions of pesos.

More assets, including cash, jewelry, treasury bills, shares of stocks, trust funds, bearer certificates, real-estate properties, aircraft, vessels, buildings, condominiums, apartments, houses, newspapers, radio and TV stations, were quietly sequestered, confiscated and been surrendered.

Subsequently, many of these assets either mysteriously disappeared or taken over by Mrs. Aquino’s own relatives, friends and cronies.

One “miracle” quickly followed after another in the 18 months of the Aquino administration, whose regime was known for numerous “miracles.”

For instance, it took the Aquino administration one day, just one day, to investigate and settle the assets of billionaire and confessed then-President Ferdinand E. Marcos crony and front man Jose Yao Campos.

The hasty and injudicious settlement of the 99 corporations and subsidiaries worth billions of pesos in Vancouver, Canada, saw the PCGG acting as investigator, prosecutor and judge, all at the same time.

Even more reprehensible, as detailed in my book Greed & Betrayal (published by Amazon), was the wholesale granting by the Aquino regime of immunity from civil and criminal prosecutions to scores of Marcos friends and cronies, who should, otherwise, have been thoroughly investigated and put in jail.   

Because of this, the PCGG earned the sobriquet “pestilential combination of graft and greed” as some of those empowered by the Aquino administration to sequester the
ill-gotten wealth of Marcos, and his cronies transformed themselves, in just a few years, from virtual paupers, after emerging from their hideouts with empty suitcases, to veritable taipans, oligarchs and arrogant politicians, complete with mansions, expensive cars and millions of pesos in bank accounts.

And while the number of poverty-stricken people increased by the day, their proud and bejeweled wives shamelessly flaunted their newly acquired wealth and often graced the front and society pages of the country’s newspapers and TV channels.

The chairmanship of the PCGG in Aquino’s time had changed hands five times—from former Senate President Jovito R. Salonga, to Ramon A. Diaz, to Adolf S. Azcuna, to Mateo T. Caparas and to David M. Castro.

And yet, not one of them and Aquino had rendered to the nation a complete individual accounting of the purloined assets despite the constitutional mandate in Section 1, Article XI, that: “Public officers and employees must, at all times, be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice and lead modest lives.”

On March 3, 1999, the PCGG, exactly 17 years today after its creation, is still enmeshed in a web of legal controversies, onerous compromise deals and accusations of graft
and corruption.

The quasi-judicial body, with vast powers to sequester, issue summonses and grant immunity from prosecution, was also mandated to prevent concealment, destruction and dissipation of assets; investigate cases of corruption; and adopt safeguards to ensure the plunder shall not be repeated in succeeding administrations.

To ensure success, the Aquino regime allotted P649 million for its recovery efforts, set up offices here and abroad, employed more than 1,500 foreign and local lawyers, accountants, intelligence agents, fiscal agents and asset monitors, and gave the PCGG unhampered access to all branches of government.       

But what happened?

In six years ending June 30, 1992, the PCGG recovered only P4,216,654,434.09 in cash, less than P10 billion in kind and $356 million in Swiss bank pledges out of the $15 billion the Aquino administration claimed Marcos, his relatives, friends and cronies had plundered in 20 years. Some estimates even placed the purloined assets at between P25 billion and $250 billion, including gold hordes.

But how could this be possible when Marcos’s official accumulated budget in 20 years was only
P486.42 billion?

This is a highly controversial government agency that should not escape President Duterte’s attention.


To reach the writer, e-mail [email protected]

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