MANILA, Philippines – Solicitor General Jose Calida supports a House bill that would abolish two offices and put their functions under his authority at the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), according to a statement released on Wednesday, May 24.
Calida wants to dissolve the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC).
The PCGG is tasked to recover the ill-gotten wealth amassed by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, his family, and his cronies.
The OGCC is the primary lawyer for government owned and controlled corporations, their subsidiaries, government financial institutions, government corporate offspring, government instrumentalities with corporate powers, and government-acquired asset corporations.
Calida said the consolidation of these legal functions under the OSG would “result in a leaner, cleaner government bureaucracy which is better able to address the people’s urgent needs.”
It was Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who first said in February that he will file a bill to abolish the PCGG and the OGCC because he was dissatisfied with their performance.
House Bill Number 5233 was filed by Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, and House justice committee chairperson Reynaldo Umali. Calida has appeared before the committee to support the bill.
The move put into question Calida’s possible conflict of interest because the Solicitor General is a Marcos supporter, and even actively campaigned for former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr in the 2016 vice presidential elections.
Calida had told reporters in March: “I’m now a government official. The elections before [have] no more bearing [on] my duty as a government official. It doesn’t matter to me.”
The PCGG is the complainant in the bulk of forfeiture cases before anti-graft court Sandiganbayan seeking to recover billions of dollars in assets from the Marcos family and cronies.
The PCGG has won one of the 43 original civil suits, while 18 were dismissed and two have been archived. The rest are still pending. (READ: Recovering Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth: After 30 years, what?)
Addressing the issue, Calida said in Wednesday’s statement that the OSG has always represented the PCGG in the civil suits.
For the OGCC, Calida said the OSG has also assumed the role of counsel for government corporations like the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), and Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).
Calida also wants to remove the OSG as an attached agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Instead, he wants his office to be attached to the Office of the President (OP) “for budgetary purposes.”
“Considering that the President is the primary client of the OSG, this setup will secure the fiduciary relationship between the two offices,” Calida said. – Rappler.com