The Philippine government agency working to recover the ill-gotten billions amassed by former dictator Ferdinand Marcos may be scrapped.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) could be among the casualties of a bid to “rightsize” the government.
The PCGG was set up after the “People Power” revolution to recover the estimated $10 billion looted by the dictator and his allies during his 20 years in power.
The agency has since recovered 170 billion pesos or about $3.4 billion in ill-gotten wealth, including jewellery, art and other assets.
It is continuing its efforts to find millions more, including priceless artworks by masters such as Michelangelo and Picasso.
Speaking to reporters today (Wednesday, July 26), Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said: “They don’t do anything. What do they do?
“There are many specific recommendations for policy actions under the rightsizing bill.
“One such proposal is to abolish the PCGG and to transfer its remaining activities to the Department of Justice.”
The bill in question — the Rightsizing the National Government Act of 2017 — is one of President Duterte’s legislative priorities and is currently pending approval in Congress.
Mr Diokno said the proposed rightsizing programme had a “function-based approach that would abolish executive agencies with overlapping or redundant operations and functions that result in ineffective and inefficient in the delivery of public services”.
Jean Enriquez, of human rights coalition iDEFEND, said she was “shocked” buy the announcement, adding: “This is really a huge blow to human rights groups, especially those who have been against the Marcos dictatorship.
“This administration seeks to absolve the Marcoses from their responsibility to the Filipino people.”
The announcement is only the latest development in the political rehabilitation of the Marcos clan, which has accelerated since President Duterte moved in to the Malacañang.
The late-dictator’s son, Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos narrowly lost the vice presidential election last year. An appeal over his defeat by Leni Robredo is pending. BongBong has made no secret of his desire to one day win the presidency.
Imelda Marcos, whose enormous collection of shoes made worldwide headlines when the family was ousted from the Malacañang in 1989, sits in the House of Representatives. Her daughter, Imee, is the Governor of the family’s political stronghold in Ilocos Norte.
President Duterte has openly supported the family, giving the green light for the late-dictator to be buried in the national hero’s cemetery on account of his war service last November.
He has also expressed his support for BongBong’s bid to overturn the result of last summer’s vice-presidential election.