Ex-PCGG chair urges commission to be proactive in searching for Marcos assets

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 16) – With the imminent return of a Marcos to Malacañang, former Philippine Commission on Good Government (PCGG) Chairman Andres Bautista said he was worried about possible changes in the functions of the agency, as he urged its officials to be more proactive in recovering the family’s ill-gotten wealth.

Bautista expressed his concern after photos of a Picasso painting on the wall of the living room of Imelda Marcos, the wife of the late dictator, went viral, with some claiming it was the work of the Spanish artist that the commission has been looking for.

“So ang tanong talaga diyan is ano ang mangyayari sa PCGG? Bubuwagin ba nila o papalitan ‘yung batas? Kasi puwede naman palitan ng Kongreso ‘yung mga batas e, and so that one remains to be seen,” Bautista told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: The real question is what will happen to the PCGG. Will they abolish it or will they change the law? Because Congress can change laws, and so that one remains to be seen.]

“Ang PCGG binuo on February 28, 1986 sa pamamagitan ng Executive No. 1 ng bagong nakaupong pangulo na si Cory Aquino…Ang pangunahing layunin ng PCGG ay hanapin at ibalik sa kaban ng bayan ang mga nakaw na yaman ng mga Marcos at mga crony,” Bautista reiterated, replying to the earlier statement made by leading presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos that PCGG should also look to other political leaders who have corruption issues, other than Marcoses.

[Translation: The PCGG was created on Feb. 28, 1986 through Executive Order No. 1 of the then newly-elected president Cory Aquino. The main goal of the PCGG is to track down and return to the country's coffers the stolen wealth of the Marcoses and their cronies.]

“Ang dapat gawin ng PCGG ay kunin ‘yang painting na yan [The PCGG should secure that painting],” Bautista said, referring to Picasso’s Reclining Woman VI worth about P8 billion.

“Ako mismo nakita ko yang painting na ‘yan eh. Kasi nung binisita namin si unang ginang Imelda Marcos… Pumunta kami sa kanya doon sa condominum sa Pacific Plaza ‘yung unit 34b at kasama ko noon si Commissioner Richard Amurao at nakita nga namin ‘yang Picasso na ‘yan,” he further detailed.

[Translation: I myself saw that painting. Because when we visited first lady Imelda Marcos, we went to her condominium in Pacific Plaza, unit 34b, and I was with Commissioner Richard Amurao and we saw that Picasso.]

Bautista said in 2014, the PCGG applied for a writ of attachment from the Sandiganbayan and that sheriffs went to different residences and offices of the Marcoses searching for the painting.

He said to throw off the PCGG, they created replicas of the painting.

“Gumagawa sila ng mga kopya, bakit ko nasabi yun? Kasi nga nung nag-raid, yung mga sheriff, nakakuha sila ng tatlong kopya ng ‘Madonna and Child’ so talagang mga sinasabit nila in order to protect the original,” Bautista explained.

[Translation: They created replicas. Why do I say that? Because when a raid was conducted, the sheriffs retrieved three reproductions of the "Madonna and Child." So, these were what they were hanging to protect the original.]

The former chairman said the PCGG should actively search for the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses now, as a way of protecting our history from revisionism.

Bautista said the Picasso was just one of around 300 expensive paintings allegedly bought by the Marcoses with ill-gotten wealth, adding that the PCGG was still looking for 156 other paintings when he left the commission in 2015.

Bautista, who is not in the country, also reacted to the statement of Atty. Vic Rodriguez, the spokesperson of presidential frontrunner Bongbong Marcos, that he should make the allegations "here in person,” and answer supposed cheating issues during the 2016 elections when Bautista was Comelec chairman.

“Yung allegation niya hindi na about the painting eh biglang naging halalan na eh [His allegation is no longer about the painting. It has suddenly become about the elections.],” Bautista said.

CNN Philippines tried to get the side of the current chairman of the PCGG but has not received any response as of writing.