MANILA, Philippines—The expected demise of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) will not be met with any sorrow by the almost 10,000 Filipino human-rights victims abused during Ferdinand E. Marcos’s martial rule, their lawyers said.
“The PCGG and the Republic itself —not the Marcoses—have been the greatest obstacles to collection of their historic $2 billion against the estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos,” American human rights lawyer Robert Swift and his Filipino counterpart, Rod Domingo Jr., said in a joint statement.
They noted that by the PCGG’s own calculation, it has spent more than $10 million in attorney’s fees and costs opposing the class collection suit of the Filipino human rights victims.
“So far, it has nothing to show for this opposition except the enmity of its own people and the verdict of the United Nations Human Rights Committee holding, in 2006, that the Republic violated the international human rights of the class,” they said.
Swift, lead counsel of the rights victims, recalled that he approached every chair of the PCGG since its establishment proposing that they work together to recover the Marcos assets.
“Instead of opposing each other, we could have shared information, resources and costs. But the wisdom of this approach escaped these bright and learned men,” the American lawyer said.
Swift noted that even today, there is $85 million under foreign court control which is being contested by the PCGG and the 10,000 claimants.
“Administrations change but government lives on. Not so with the victims of human rights abuses. They grow old, become sick, lack medicines and die, often in poverty,” he said.
Domingo, Swift’s Philippine counterpart, said the PCGG served a valid purpose at one point.
“But over time it became politicized by some of its members who focused more on their own personal interests, not the best interests of the country. And certainly not the best interest of the abused Marcos victims of human rights,” he said.
“Only the intervention of President Aquino can put an end to the conflicting interests of the government and the victims of human rights abuses. The recovery of the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses must continue, but more intensely,” Domingo said.
He said the position of the human right victims was summarized in Swift’s July 15, 2010, letter to President Aquino, but the latter has not responded up to now.