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Why abolish PCGG?

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Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had a press statement that she agreed to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) which was created more than 20 years ago to go after the ill-gotten assets of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Could it be that De Lima feels scorned by the Supreme Court voiding EO No. 1 creating the Philippine Truth Commission her handiwork? With Pamusa’s volunteer counsels virtually unanimous that the PCGG would suffice as lead agency to do the tasks intended for the PTC, De Lima should justify why she wants the PCGG abolished. .

Contrary to our previous emails about government assets stolen by Filipinos and ex-Filipinos as though Pamusa was an avenging angel for which I apologize, we’ve launched a campaign for President Aquino to have an effective link through PCGG with anticorruption networks worldwide in conjunction with the UNCAC in searching and recovering those assets stolen from the people.

We’re hopeful Pamusa’s capacity build-up, operating, maintenance and other expenses to utilize the networks hinged on the UNCAC’s international cooperation provisions (UNCAC-ICP) won’t entail government expenses because many Filipinos at home and overseas are willing to help in cash and in kind if the government cooperating with an NGO, say, Pamusa is established.

There’s no need for a rocket scientist to understand that if something is wrong with the way PCGG was run in the past, its structure and personnel can be revamped from top to bottom without abolishing the agency. In fact, if there’d been repeatedly glaring mistakes that government reforms can’t gain traction, it’s the practice of abolishing agencies and replacing them when the latter’s potential hasn’t been yet fully exploited.

My experience as former head of the Philippine Export Council was the critics embellished the defects because they couldn’t visualize the sequencing of actions before a desired result was achieved. In Marcos’ case, he often sided with Ivy-League trained technocrats’ policy options without hands-on experience. President Aquino should take care he doesn’t fall into the same trap.

With due respect to De Lima, therefore, she can’t insist on replacing the PCGG and create a replacement when she can only sees things from purely legal perspective without hands-on business management and economic policy development experience. That’s like allowing a glider pilot to fly a Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

What the President needs is for his team members to put their act together and interface real world experience in addressing national problems. This way we can predict graft and corruption would be minimized midway his term of office. President Aquino may be the only one to succeed of minimizing graft and corruption by making sure legal solution doesn’t elbow out business management and economic development experience in addressing serious national problems like graft and corruption.

My colleagues and I have classified into top category the donors we’re tapping who may’ve engaged in corruption such as current and former public officials whose illegal activities began during the Marcos regime were carried over to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s presidency including their close associates and immediate family members, or the private businessmen and individuals that conspired with them to engage in the worst corrupt practices in our nation’s history.

The top category is composed of officials in business prior to and after public service. If they benefited financially while in office without shaking down anyone, they just happened to be at the right positions at the right time. No human being could resist that opportunity. But rather than continue amassing illicit assets and devoting an obscene part to profligate living, they have used it as capital and added foreign investment to it to grow the economy and create jobs.

The other category we’re targeting for no-compromise punitive actions is composed of the nefariously corrupt current and former government officials and co-conspirators that stole the nation’s scarce resources, perennially violated laws such as evading taxes, used political influence to bar foreign investors and have shown no concern for Filipinos to suffer because of government resources they stole.

We are confident those of the first category would contribute to fighting graft and corruption alongside expanding their businesses on a level playing field to hasten the nation’s economic recovery and self-sustaining development. Thus, Pamusa won’t initiate punitive actions against them knowing full well their business activities will help liberate poor Filipinos out of the clutches of poverty and its debilitating effects.

Pamusa needs donations to fund the rising cost of effectively working alongside “StAR” (Stolen Assets Recovery) Initiative of the WB and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Corruption Hunters Alliance (ICHA) organized in a meeting early December in Washington DC under the WB’s auspices attended by De Lima, her Usec Jose Vicente Salazar and me as government and NGO delegates, respectively.

Above all else the meeting is a declaration of war against corruption wherever it exists. Thus, the ICHA is a worldwide army of corruption hunters coordinated by the WB and UNODC. It isn’t an exaggeration to which De Lima would likely agree that correctly executed and adequately funded, there is no place on earth that stolen assets would remain hidden and can’t be traced by the President’s anti-graft and corruption program led by the PCGG with the help and cooperation of the ICHA’s transnational methods of tracing stolen assets, to wit:

1. The WB-prescribed “A Practitioner’s Handbook on Tracing Stolen Assets” includes Dave Melton’s book of “Accounting Guide to Asset Tracing.” The book defines asset-search in the context of divorce proceedings as “an accounting process that traces an asset from its separate property beginning through all its mutations and demonstrates that the resulting asset in existence of the date of divorce is either separate, marital, or a combination of both.

2. Forensic audit by which, say, SGV can trace from agreed baselines such as income tax returns (ITRs), statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs), other personal and corporate financial reports if the growth of assets or net worth were within the realm of statistical probability, or by “a process of series of actions through which income of illegal origin is concealed, disguised, or made to appear legitimate (main objective), and to evade detection, prosecution, and taxation.”

By Frank Wenceslao




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