Alvarez defends Calida: Unfair to say he's Marcos loyalist
MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday, December 7, dismissed concerns over Solicitor General Jose Calida's alleged conflict of interest should his office take over the functions of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).
"It's unfair to say that [Calida] is a Marcos loyalist. If he supported [former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr] during the campaign, does that mean he's a loyalist? In fact, now, you don't hear any pronouncements from SolGen Calida supporting the Marcoses, right? He's just doing his job," said Alvarez in an interview with Pinky Webb on CNN Philippines.
The House committee on justice earlier approved a committee report seeking the abolition of the PCGG and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC). Their functions would then be given to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
The PCGG, created after the 1986 People Power Revolution, is tasked to get back the ill-gotten wealth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, his family, and his cronies.
Webb pointed out that during the 2016 elections, Calida was a supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte and former senator Marcos, who was then running for vice president. Marcos lost to Vice President Leni Robredo, a win which he is contesting.
Alvarez had previously called the PCGG "inutil" or useless. (READ: What you should know about the agency hunting Marcos' ill-gotten wealth)
"When [the late dictator] Marcos left, the PCGG was made. So until now, what are they doing? Haven't they recovered everything? So I think it's time it's put under the Office of the Solicitor General," said Alvarez.
Transparency International estimated that Marcos and his cronies stole around $5 billion (P231.8 billion) to $10 billion (P464 billion) from 1972 to 1986 through shell corporations, real estate properties, and money in numerous offshore banks.
According to the PCGG, it has recovered around P170,447,347,523.52 ($3.6 billion) since its creation. It's also working to get back P32 billion ($673 million) through 19 civil cases still pending at anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.
Alvarez insisted that Calida is a "decent person" who is "impartial."
Duterte himself has pushed for the PCGG's abolition. The Marcos family had endorsed Duterte during the elections. They continue to be allies. (READ: We trust Duterte will end decades of cases – Imee Marcos) – Rappler.com