Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Old 4Gs to New 4Gs Gaining Ground

The other day my barber questioned me again what town mates of mine, classmates and friends had been asking me. When would I go back and participate in instituting real changes in the political environment? When would I run for public office or accept a government position?

Again I had to explain that although it was my youthful ambition and even reinforced it with academic preparation and campaign experiences both in the Philippines and in the United States, I have retreated from running for public office because of what I called the 4G requirements: Guns, Gold, Goons and Girls. I did not have the stomach to use them.

But as I have expressed in my previous articles, I have not given up on the Philippines. On the contrary, my involvement is as intense and as deep. One can make a difference without having to occupy a public position.

Noynoy’s election as President brought hope to a lot of us. Implicit is the expectation that he would continue the People’s and Cory’s unfinished revolution. “Walang corrupt, walang mahirap” (No corrupt, no poor) reflected such hope and expectation.

In response, he sought the creation of the Truth Commission to go after the corrupt practices, excesses and loots of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) and her cohorts including her husband and family. Unfortunately, GMA’s Supreme Court struck it down as being unconstitutional because it supposedly violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution. I disagreed with the decision and expressed it in a previous article, but at the same time I also stated that the Truth Commission was not necessary to perform the tasks for which it is being created.

When Cory Aquino became a Revolutionary President her first act was to issue Executive Order No. 1 creating the Philippine Commission on Good Government (PCGG).  Under Section 2, it was tasked to assist the President in the following matters:

(a) The recovery of all ill gotten wealth accumulated by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad, including the takeover or sequestration of all business enterprises and entities owned or controlled by them, during his administration, directly or through nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public office and/or using their powers, authority, influence, connections or relationship.

(b) The investigation of such cases of graft and corruption as the President may assign to the Commission from time to time.

(c) The adoption of safeguards to ensure that the above practices shall not be repeated in any manner under the new government, and the institution of adequate measures to prevent the occurrence of corruption.

The above law remains effective currently pursuant to Section 3, Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution which provides that “all existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations, letters of instruction, and other executive issuances not consistent with the Constitution remain operative until amended, repealed or revoked.”

PCGG has been known more for its responsibility in performing task (a). In fact, it is being judged primarily on its achievements based on such task. Created on February 28, 1986, PCGG has been in existence for 25 years. It has recovered about P85 billion so far out of a projected $10 billion or P450 billion – a recovery rate of less than 20%. While it is relatively low given the span of time, the P85 billion represents about 85% of the authorized funding for CARP (Agrarian Reform) for the law’s first twenty years.

Presently, I understand that there are 276 anti-graft cases pending in various courts against the family of the late Ferdinand Marcos - his immediate family, relatives, cronies, subordinates and close associates. The amount of money still under litigation is about P175 billion. While there are criminal cases filed against the same people for violation of the provisions of Republic Act 3019 and the Revised Penal Code, not one of them has been sent to jail to this day.

Does the record of PCGG merit its abolition as recommended by Executive Secretary Ochoa and supported by Justice Secretary De Lima?

The New PCGG is composed of a relatively young, driven, smart, idealistic and techno-savvy group whose education included “man (service) for others” and whose battle cry is, “Fly High, Blue Eagle the King.” It would have been nice to include one whose education considers “working is praying” and fight and roar with the heart of a “Red Lion.” But it’s okay for now. After all, the last time one of the latter was included, he was caught dancing with Imelda Marcos.

In its first 100 day report, the New PCGG envisioned three possible scenarios for the future of the commission:

  1. Outright and categorical abolition of the Commission by legislation;
  2. Legislative abolition but with recommendation that the bill includes the creation of an Institute for Good Governance which will serve as a policy center focusing on the conduct of analytical and ethical research to inform and enlighten both national policies as well as the Filipino people, through mainstreaming of best practices and case studies on good governance; and
  3. A presidential directive for the Commission to wind down its affairs as far as Section 2 (a) of E.O 1, 1986 is concerned but also directing the commission to fully activate its functions under 2(b) and 2(c) as a corruption agency.

The new commission is recommending option no.3. Why would you wind down recovery of ill-gotten wealth knowing that there are at least 4 times more that you have not recovered? Why would you make yourself a lame duck agency in dealing with Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth? Why do you voluntarily remove that “Sword of Damocles” hanging over the targeted individuals and enterprises to prevent a similar occurrence?

I propose a fourth option. Let PCGG stay as it was created with some change in attitude. Fight and give all these corrupt and dishonest officials and politicians the pains that the law imposes and inflict them with ACHES (Aggressive Competent, Honest and Effective Service) for others. Go after GMA and her cohorts using the same law. Give the 3 tasks specified under Section 2 of E.O. 1, 1986 equal importance.

Cory Aquino’s first legal act is God’s Gift of Good Government to the governed. It should be perceived as the new 4Gs. What we do with it is our gift to Him. Given the new cyber technologies and gadgets available and accessible in this digital age, we could, should and would be recovering not only ill-gotten wealth but also our lost honor and standing in the world of nations.

From the old 4Gs (Guns, Gold, Goons, Girls) to the new 4Gs (God’s Gift of Good Government), we must gain ground and be in good graces.



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