THE move in the House of Representatives to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) will not lead to historical revisionism since none of the functions of the agency, created in 1986 to run after ill-gotten wealth during the Marcos dictatorship, will be abandoned, Malacañan Palace asserted on Thursday.
However, the Department of Justice (DOJ) served notice that it is sticking to its position that the PCGG and Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) should remain under the DOJ’s control and supervision.
Voting 162-10, members of the House of Representatives earlier approved on third and final reading a measure to abolish the commission, the first to be created by the government of former President Corazon C. Aquino.
“There is no revisionism there because all of the duties of the PCGG will be performed by the Office of the Solicitor General [OSG]” Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque Jr. said.
Roque disputed a claim by Sen. Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV that the PCGG abolition “will institutionalize historical revisionism.”
Principally authored by House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, House Bill 7376, or the proposed “OSG charter” also seeks to strengthen the OSG to further enable it to fulfill its role of upholding the best interest of the government.
PCGG Commissioner John Agbayani said in a House Justice subcommittee hearing last October that he found it “not appropriate to abolish an existing agency which is very efficient.”
Although Roque agreed that the PCGG is “not inefficient,” he stressed that there is no need for it to be a separate agency since it is just performing “winding up” functions, which can be done by OSG.
Former Commission on Human Rights Chairman Etta Rosales earlier also raised a concern over allowing the Solicitor General to assume the PCGG functions, since, she noted, current Solicitor General Jose C. Calida is a Marcos loyalist and had supported defeated vice presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in 2016.
However, Roque said he is confident that the OSG can do its job. “There is no conflict because whoever political appointee [leads the OSG], governance still lies on the rank-andfile workers,” he said. “This measure seeks to promote the professionalism of the OSG.”
DOJ sticks to its guns
On Thursday the justice secretary said the DOJ is sticking with its position that the PCGG and OGCC should remain under its control and supervision.
“We respect the action of the HoR [House of Representatives]. But we’ll maintain our position to keep PCGG and the OGCC under the wings of the DOJ,” Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
The DOJ chief also said he does not yet see the need to discuss the matter with President Duterte, saying that passage of the law is still far-fetched considering that it has to be tackled before the Senate.
“It is still a long shot. There is no counterpart bill in the Senate,” Guevarra explained.
The OGCC serves as the principal law office of all government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), their subsidiaries and other corporate offsprings and government- acquired asset corporation.
In its position paper earlier submitted to the House, the DOJ warned of a possible conflict of interest of clients-agencies that may arise should the OSG represent the government exercising governmental and proprietary functions.
It noted that one of the functions of the OSG is to represent the government in the Supreme Court (SC) and the Court of Appeals (CA) in all criminal proceedings.
Likewise, the OSG is tasked to represent the government and its officers in the SC, the CA and other courts or tribunals in actions where government or any officer in his official capacity is a party.
On the other hand, the OGCC serves as the principal law office of all GOCCs , their subsidiaries and other corporate offspring and government- acquired asset corporations.
The DOJ earlier noted that, at present, there are numerous cases wherein the OGCC and the OSG find themselves representing opposing sides with conflicting interest.
The OGCC represents GOCCs, while the OSG represents different agencies of the government such as the bureaus of Internal Revenue, and of Customs (BOC), the Department of Finance and the like.