By John Tria
The immediate aftermath of the EDSA revolution was a euphoria where the victorious Aquino government immediately moved to set up the institutions that would be tasked to do the job of correcting the wrongs of its predecessor.
Its first executive order was to create the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) as an agency that aimed at the following:
“1.The recovery of all ill-gotten wealth accumulated by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad, including the takeover or sequestration of all business enterprises and entities owned or controlled by them, during his administration, directly or through nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public office and/or using their powers, authority, influence, connections or relationship
2.The investigation of such cases of graft and corruption as the President may assign to the Commission from time to and time.
3.The adoption of safeguards to ensure that the above practices shall not be repeated in any manner under the new government, and the institution of adequate measures to prevent the occurrence of corruption.
Its first commissioners were men and women of known integrity and probity, such as Jovito Salonga and Mary Concepcion Bautista. Staffed by lawyers and researchers with annual budgets, the initial resolve leads us to think that it was, (and I guess, still is) the primary agency of government tasked with returning stolen wealth.
Yet what has happened since 1986? 30 years of taxpayer’s money later, how much has been recovered and how much do they think still needs to be recovered? Have we been adequately updated about its performance? After the Salonga years, little has been heard from this agency apart from allegations of corruption by its officials and the travelling exhibits on the Marcos legacy.
PCGG under PNOY: almost abolished
As Aquino the son ascended the presidency in 2010, many retained the hope that his anticorruption platform would push the PCGG to finish its job, and that whatever amounts deemed worthy to recover would have already been returned.
PNOY would have fulfilled long promises and obtained justice for those deemed oppressed by the Marcos regime and predecessors it labeled as corrupt.
Yet a look at the PNOY presidency’s resolve to recover the wealth raises more questions, as its resolve to push the PCGG to fulfill its mandate left a question mark for many. As the PCGG has fallen under the supervision of the Department of Justice, the previous DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima reportedly sought its abolition.( http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/210307/news/nation/doj-chief-backs-abolition-of-pcgg)
Particularly odd, therefore, was that his government opened the door to abolish the PCGG even as a lot of work still remains unfinished (http://interaksyon.com/article/51866/pnoy-wants-further-study-on-proposed-pcgg-abolition).
Equally appalling was that this same presidency was also unable to return the Coconut levy to its rightful owners: http://news.abs-cbn.com/business/06/30/15/sc-issues-tro-pnoy-orders-coco-levy-funds.
Of course it is bad enough that his government allowed the display of Marcos medals in the AFP hall of heroes (http://interaksyon.com/article/2012/palace-defends-inclusion-of-marcos-in-afp-hall-of-heroes), lening strong credence to the assertion that it was under his watch that the Marcoses allegedly regained clout.
We will never know what prompted Aquino the son, and Leila de Lima to let these discussions take place, but many are dismayed by what they feel is a lack of rigor to pursue his parent’s legacy to right previous historical wrongs and restore what was lost for the people who elected him. Should the PCGG and PNOY, and perhaps De Lima and then PCGG Chair Andres Bautista be investigated for this?
The inability to bring Marcos to justice and the PNOY response to the resurgent Marcos legacy will be uncomfortable to many of his allies and those supporting embattled Senator De lima. The deeper truths will eventually surface, leaving many of them too disgusted to attend rallied against the Marcos burial.