Remulla’s PCGG plan: Finish recovering Marcos ill-gotten wealth, manage other assets

Lian Buan
Remulla’s PCGG plan: Finish recovering Marcos ill-gotten wealth, manage other assets

REFORMS. Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla joins Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. for a joint press conference on July 21, 2022 to discuss prison reforms.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

'Now it's 36 years after the fact, I don't think we need to spend the next hundred years running after the Marcoses,' says Remulla

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla said on Thursday, July 28, that the justice department plans to retain the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and allow it to finish recovering the remaining unseized P125 billion stolen wealth of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s family and their cronies.

At the same time, Remulla said he has recommended the creation of an asset forfeiture office under it that will handle assets seized by government.

“We don’t really want to abolish PCGG and I have suggested that we create an asset forfeiture office for those whose assets are seized by government for non-payment of taxes, for drug trafficking, or for other crimes. We should have a central office where all the assets are deposited so that these can be properly accounted for,” Remulla said during a speech on Thursday at an event of the Rotary Club.

The PCGG is an agency attached to the Department of Justice (DOJ). It was created through an executive order in 1986 when the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos was ousted by a people power revolution, with an exclusive mandate to recover ill-gotten wealth acquired by the Marcos family and their cronies. As of latest data, the PCGG after 36 years still has P125 billion more left to recover.

Remulla explained to reporters that the asset forfeiture office won’t dilute the mandate of the PCGG.

“No, I don’t think that [it will dilute the mandate]. Naturally 36 years after, it is dwindling, it will not increase, it will decrease, that’s the natural course. What we’re saying is, the training that PCGG got in managing assets, we might as well look into it so that the other assets forfeited to the government will have a management system,” said Remulla.

Remulla said these were internal plans of the DOJ and did not directly answer whether Marcos was receptive to the idea.

Remulla’s PCGG plan: Finish recovering Marcos ill-gotten wealth, manage other assets
Shift the mandate

Remulla explained that this way, the government can have a central office that syndicates won’t be able to penetrate. The justice secretary cited the example of seized smuggled goods, which are auctioned by the government.

“The smuggler still wins the auction, and with cheaper tax so the government might as well do it in another office where they cannot penetrate,” said Remulla.

The Marcoses, including the President, have never apologized, much less acknowledged, the corruption that their father committed, described in court records as “plunder.”

There was no anti-plunder law during the time of Marcos, and the 1991 plunder law cannot retroactively apply to acts committed prior. The former first lady Imelda Marcos had been convicted on seven counts of graft, but is appealing the verdict while she’s out on bail.

“Now it’s 36 years after the fact, I don’t think we need to spend the next hundred years running after the Marcoses, I don’t think it’s going to be that way, might as well make good of something that’s there already, so shift the mandate to something useful for the country, and more urgent,” said Remulla.

Estate tax

President Marcos is the co-executor of his father’s estate, which owes the government billions in estate taxes. The original amount ordered returned by the Supreme Court in a final decision in 1997 was P23 billion, and lawyers who contested his presidential candidacy estimated that because of surcharge and interest, the amount had actually gone up to P203 billion.

The Department of Finance under the Duterte government confirmed trying, but failing, to collect such taxes from the Marcoses, the latest attempt being in December 2021. Marcos evaded this topic during the campaign and even walked out of an interview when it was raised.

Remulla said the P203 billion estimate “is improbable and based on a biased computation.”

Neither the Duterte nor the Marcos government released information on the actual amount stated in government records.

Remulla’s PCGG plan: Finish recovering Marcos ill-gotten wealth, manage other assets


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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.