Gov't corporate counsel resists being put under SolGen Calida
MANILA, Philippines – Government Corporate Counsel Rudolf Philip Jurado opposes the recently-passed House Bill that would abolish the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) and put it under the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).
“Merging the OGCC with the OSG is highly anomalous and scandalous. GOCCs will become sitting ducks,” Jurado said in a statement on Wednesday, May 16, a day after the House passed House Bill (HB) No. 7376.
HB No. 7376 would abolish both the OGCC and the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and put them under the OSG, for a “leaner bureacracy”.
Jurado said it is a clear conflict of interest because the OGCC and the OSG always “find themselves on opposing ends.”
OGCC and OSG
The OGCC is the statutory law office of Government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) and their subsidiaries. The OSG is the lawyer for the government, and as Solicitor General Jose Calida likes to put it, the tribune of the people.
There are criminal cases where it would be “People” – as represented by the OSG – vs a GOCC which is represented by the OGCC.
Jurado said that “there are presently about 400 active court cases and multi-million-peso arbitration cases” of the like.
“If this becomes a law, who will now represent the GOCCs, including the water districts – the OSG? With the OGCC gone, GOCCs will be haplessly at the mercy of a lawyer who can abandon their interest anytime,” Jurado said.
Jurado noted that the OGCC and the OSG were merged way back in the 50s but that “it failed.” In 1959, RA 2327 was passed into law declaring the OGCC separate from the OSG.
“The reason is not difficult to understand,” Jurado said.
Jurado also noted that the OGCC has been “instrumental” in President Rodrigo Duterte’s infrastructure vision “Build, Build, Build”, where they review contracts of GOCCs to make sure they are above board.
“Unfortunately, House Bill 7376 clearly undermines this momentum,” Jurado said.
In the bill’s early version, Jurado had already expressed his opposition, saying that the move would unjustly give the OSG a dramatic budget increase, when the money could be channeled to other programs.
House Bill 7376 is criticized for another alleged conflict of interest. Calida is a known Marcos supporter who, if the law is passed, would become the foremost authority in going after ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses. (READ: Will PCGG withdraw Marcos loot cases? 'It depends')
Duterte acknowledges this Calida-Marcos connection. In an interview with media on Wednesday night, Duterte denied being behind Calida’s move to oust former chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Duterte said in a mix of Filipino and English: “Whatever he thinks that it is his duty to perform, I don't meddle. But in one of those meetings here regarding the issue of the burial of President Marcos, he was the most...and Calida is passionately, pro-Marcos. He's Ilocano." – Rappler.com