Marcos to 'lead by example' in anti-graft efforts, to make PCGG go after other corrupt individuals

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 26) — If Ferdinand Marcos Jr. becomes president, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) may have to go after other individuals tagged in corruption, potentially expanding its mandate of recovering the ill-gotten wealth accumulated by his family.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' In Private aired on Tuesday, Marcos was asked how he would strengthen the commission tasked to recover the ill-gotten wealth amassed by his family during the 20 years of dictatorship of his father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

"Instead of directing themselves against the Marcoses only, I mean kung meron akong corrupt na kamag-anak, eh di lalabas ang pangalan niya but not only us. Lahat," he said.

[Translation: I mean, if I really have a corrupt relative, his name must also surface. But it shouldn't only be us. It should be all.]

Marcos also noted that he is willing to provide the PCGG with bigger budget and additional manpower.

"Nasa ibang panahon na tayo eh. Hindi na ‘yun (ill-gotten wealth) ang issue. Ang issue is just graft and corruption in the government," he said. "They’re already there. Eh di gamitin mo na. Patibayin mo pa para talagang meron kang agency na walang ginawa kundi nagbabantay na walang gumagawa ng kalokohan."

[Translation: We already live in a different time. That's not the issue anymore. The issue is just graft and corruption in the government. The agency is already there. Then let's utilize it, strengthen it so that we really have an agency that monitors erring individuals.]

"Then mag-file sila ng kaso sa Ombudsman. ‘Yun ang role talaga nila eh (Then they file cases before the Ombudsman. That's their role). Although it’s directed against the Marcoses, that function has lapsed, they cannot file cases anymore," he added.

The late President Corazon Aquino created the PCGG via Executive Order 1 in 1986. There is nothing in the order that states that the filing of cases against the Marcoses will lapse after a certain period.

The PCGG has so far recovered more than $3 billion or ₱171 billion in ill-gotten wealth from the Marcoses and their cronies. Over ₱125 billion worth of real and personal properties by the family is still under litigation.

'Leading by example' in anti-graft efforts

Marcos also said that he will lead by example to show that his administration will not tolerate graft and corruption.

"Leading by example is very simple. Do not tolerate this kind of – ‘yung ginagawa na kinukuha ‘yung pera ng gobyerno (people stealing from public coffers)," he said. "At a lower level in bureaucracies, if we improve the efficiency, ang ideal dyan lalo na sa lower levels, walang fixer (the ideal is to ban fixer in lower levels)."

"At a higher level it goes back to the people you choose. Meron talaga diyan walang inisip, pag na-appoint, iniisip ‘paano tayo kikita rito?’ Wag tayong kukuha ng mga ganun. At kung meron mang nakalusot na may ginawa, parusahan mo," he added.

[Translation: There are people who only think, once appointed, 'how will I earn from this?' Let's not appoint people like that in office. And if someone gets through, they should be punished.]

Marcos once again downplayed the assumption that his presidency will scare away foreign investors.

"The only way I can prove them wrong is by proving them wrong," he said.

READ: Marcos surname to scare away foreign investors? Bongbong disagrees

The presidency of Marcos Sr. was marred by corruption and human rights violations with the declaration of martial law in 1972. The late dictator's widow Imelda was found guilty of graft in 2018 over crimes during his regime but anti-graft court Sandiganbayan also dismissed some civil cases due to lack of evidence.

RELATED: Ex-PCGG chair: At least $6B worth of Marcos accumulated wealth still unretrieved 

The government has also been prodding the Bureau of Internal Revenue to collect the Marcos family’s unsettled estate tax, which has reportedly ballooned from ₱23 billion in 1997 to ₱203 billion at present.

The younger Marcos himself faced multiple protests in his presidential bid for his failure to file his income tax returns when he was Ilocos Norte governor and vice governor. These cases were dismissed by the Commission on Elections on the division level but majority are under appeal before the en banc.

READ: LIST: Petitions against Bongbong Marcos' 2022 presidential bid