Why PCGG isn't pursuing Marcos foundations

Posted at 02/12/14 4:24 PM


MANILA - The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) will turn 28 years old on February 28, 2014.

Many are wondering what the commission has to show for nearly three decades of its existence.

The PCGG was established soon after Ferdinand Marcos was ousted in 1986 to recover ill-gotten wealth.

Around US$5 billion to US$10 billion are believed to have been stolen by the dictator, his family and his cronies.

The PCGG said it has recovered over US$4 billion so far in real estate, investment bank accounts, shareholdings and other assets.

In 2013, the PCGG remitted some P631 million to the national coffers, on a budget of only P106 million. That's a return of 6 pesos for every peso spent.

Still, full recovery of the ill-gotten assets remains elusive, and no member of the Marcos family has ever been jailed for their alleged crimes.

PCGG Chairman Andres Bautista confirmed that some foundations linked to the Marcoses laid claim to the Swiss accounts that were forfeited to the Republic of the Philippines.

"These bank accounts were under the names of several foundations so it was difficult to pinpoint ownership in the beginning but over time we were able to obtain evidence that these foundations were fronts of the Marcos family," he said.

"There was enough evidence to convince the Swiss courts, particularly the highest court of Switzerland, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, to say that these are really ill-gotten wealth and this is why they agreed to the repatriation of these funds back to the Philippines," he added.

The PCGG chief said the agency is focused on retrieving as much as it can get of the Marcos ill-gotten wealth.

He said all moves to litigate against the alleged Marcos foundations must undergo cost-benefit analysis.

"Those foundations, they have a personality that is separate and distinct from the incorporators and the beneficiaries. So, a criminal proceeding is difficult to launch considering that you will have to show that the people behind these foundations committed criminal acts. The evidence also required is of a different standard. It is proof beyond reasonable doubt," he said.

"It will take a lot of time and resources to be able to mount such a proceeding and given the years that have gone by, it will really be difficult...Given the limited amount of time and resources, is it something worth pursuing?"