“Abolishing the PCGG would mean stopping the investigation against the Marcoses. Won’t this take precedence? That those who are in power will commit crimes with impunity because they can just get away with it?” – Fe Salino of the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon
By ALEX D. LOPEZ
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Militant groups expressed fears that the abolition of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) will finally free the Marcoses and their cronies — including President Noynoy Aquino’s uncle, Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco — from the responsibility of returning ill-gotten wealth secured at the time of the Marcos government.
The PCGG was created by the late President Corazon Aquino via Executive Order No. 1 immediately after the popular Edsa uprising in 1986. It was created as a quasi-judicial agency with the aim of recovering the ill-gotten wealth accumulated by the Marcoses.
Part of the recovered ill-gotten wealth has been proposed to be allocated for the compensation of all the victims of human rights abuses under the Marcos dictatorship.
“We don’t see any reason for the abolition (of PCGG),” Fe Salino of the group of former political prisoners, Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon, told davaotoday.com.
A Martial Law victim herself, Salino said that victims of the 20-year Marcos dictatorship “can’t just forgive and forget, not even if the Aquino administration wants to put a stop in finding justice for all the victims.”
According to Selda, the Marcoses still have to face 200 criminal cases.
“Abolishing the PCGG would mean stopping the investigation against the Marcoses. Won’t this take precedence? That those who are in power will commit crimes with impunity because they can just get away with it?,” she explained.
Meanwhile, Willy Marbella, national coordinator of Coco Levy Fund Ibalik sa Amin (Claim) and concurrent deputy secretary general of peasant group, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), pointed out President Noynoy Aquino’s “lack of seriousness” to prosecute the Marcoses.
The Marcos family, through the years, has regained political and economic powers. Former First Lady Imelda Marcos is currently representative of Ilocos Norte’s second congressional district; Imee Marcos is the Governor of Ilocos Norte; and Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. is a senator.
“The Marcoses are enjoying protection from the present administration. Aquino is behind all these sweetheart deals to shut down PCGG,” Marbella said.
Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said that the Aquino government’s reconciliation with the Marcoses “bodes ill for the people’s quest for justice over the crimes committed by former Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo. If the Aquinos can reconcile with the Marcoses, they can surely reconcile with the Arroyos.”
Early this month, PCGG Chairman Andres Bautista had recommended to Aquino to transfer the commission’s work to the Department of Justice headed by Secretary Leila de Lima, saying that the recovery of Marcos ill-gotten wealth is not feasible.
“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,” said Senator Chiz Escudero in a statement.
Senator Joker Arroyo reportedly said that the PCGG failed to perform its duty of preventing the recurrence of ill-gotten wealth cases in almost 27 years of existence.
The Marcoses are believed to have amassed USD 10 billion of ill-gotten wealth but the PCGG only recovered some USD 4 billion. Marcos cronies are also believed to have accumulated questionable wealth, including Danding Conjuangco.
Cojuangco controlled the coconut industry during the Marcos regime. His control over the 20 percent coco levy funds in San Miguel Corporation, according to KMP’s Marbella, further strengthened immediately after he renewed ties with the Aquinos during the 2010 elections. Ties between Danding and the Aquinos were strained during Marcos’s rule.
“This clearly demonstrates that Aquino is not sincere in pursuing the coco levy funds much more in returning the money to small coconut farmers, the legitimate owners of the funds,” Marbella said.
KMP and Claim are pushing for the immediate cash distribution of the coco levy funds in the form of “social benefits to small coconut farmers, like pension, medical, and educational benefits, among others” to the 3.5 million small coconut farmers.
Meanwhile, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Mindanao spokesperson Sheena Duazo, said that the present fate of PCGG clearly shows that the “daang matuwid” slogan of the Aquino regime is nothing but a mere rhetoric aiming to deceive Filipinos.
“President Aquino, like his predecessors in Malacañang, is a traditional politician and a puppet of the imperialist US whose vested interest is to exploit the people and the country’s wealth,” Duazo said. (Alex D. Lopez/davaotoday.com