SENATOR Chiz Escudero expressed disappointment over the Presidential Commission on Good Government’s decision to end its search for the Marcos loot and said the agency must now properly account for all ill-gotten assets it has recovered.
“That it was difficult to recover the Marcos loot should not be an excuse if there was indeed a cause of action,” Escudero said.
The senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and sponsor of the bill seeking compensation for victims of human rights abuses under the Marcos regime, said it was disappointing that the PCGG was now giving up the search for billions of pesos suspected to have been stolen by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, his cronies, and his family.
“Everybody agrees that the hunt and recovery was not going to be a walk in the park. But it’s disappointing that they are throwing in the towel now and saying that they can’t prove the case against the Marcoses anymore,” he said.
PCGG Chairman Andres Bautista cited several reasons for ending its search for an estimated $10 billion in ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family, including the return to power of some members of the Marcos family, and the government’s belt-tightening measures which now made the pursuit costly and prohibitive.
Last year, Escudero backed a plan to abolish the PCGG, which was created by the late President Corazon Aquino to recover all of the Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth.
Bautista said he already gave his recommendations to President Benigno Aquino III to wind down its operations and transfer its work to the Department of Justice.
“There have been pending bills in Congress seeking its abolition. This is actually a good move, one less funding for the government which can appropriate funds to other important programs,” the PCGG chief said.
Aside from turning over all pending cases against the Marcoses and their cronies to the DOJ, Escudero said the commission should also account for all the assets that it had recovered and confiscated since its creation and turn it over to the Department of Finance.
“We want a full audit and accounting of all the sequestered assets and its value at that time, especially those that have since been dissipated as well. Present to the public the current value of its forfeited assets to address long standing allegations against the PCGG that its officials helped squander the little assets the agency had recovered,” Escudero said.
The senator said the PCGG should also make public all the compromise deals it has made in the past, how much did the state gain or lose.
“The last thing we want to discover is a tale of the fabled loot being looted twice over,” he said.
Bautista, who took over the commission two years ago, had admitted that the “long-term chronic mishandling of the PCGG that led to an unmanageable paper trail and evidence went missing that led to bitter losses in litigation.”