House OKs bill abolishing PCGG

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15) — The House of Representatives has approved a bill that will abolish the Presidential Commission of Good Government (PCGG), the agency tasked to recover alleged ill-gotten wealth of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, and transfer its functions to the Office of the Solicitor-General.

Voting 162-10 on Tuesday, lawmakers passed on third and final reading House Bill 7376 entitled "Act Strengthening the Office of the Solicitor General."

The House bill will be reconciled with similar measures in the Senate.

It mandates the creation of a special task force within the OSG to file and prosecute cases investigated by the PCGG.

As of 2015, the PCGG had recovered a third of the estimated $10 billion (around ?506 billion) of the Marcos wealth. It had also filed 248 cases against the Marcoses and their cronies.

President Corazon Aquino created the PCGG in 1987 through her first executive order.

The agency was tasked to recover all ill-gotten wealth accumulated by the Marcoses, their relatives, and close associates here and abroad.

Malacañang had said the proposal to abolish the PCGG was not political, saying it was part of government streamlining.

But Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Carlos Zarate, who voted against the measure, said the bill will only make the OSG more powerful.

"Sa kasalukuyan, kaya [nitong] magpatalsik ng punong mahistrado ng Korte Suprema. Sa ilalim ng batas na ito, mas lalakas. Di malayo, SolGen na isa sa pinakamakapangyarihan na opisyal ng bansa," Zarate said.

[Translation: "At present it can oust a Chief Justice. Under this bill, the Solicitor General will be more powerful. He can be one of the most powerful officials of the country."]

The Supreme Court on May 11 granted Solicitor General Jose Calida's petition to oust Maria Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice. She is the first impeachable official to be removed from office without a Senate trial.

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas and Eimor Santos contributed to this report.