The Office of the Solicitor General on Wednesday backed a proposal in the House of Representatives seeking to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel and transfer all its authorities and responsibilities to the OSG.
Solicitor General Jose C. Calida said the proposed abolition of the two agencies would result in a leaner, cleaner government bureaucracy which would effectively address the people's urgent needs.
“Consolidating the legal services under the Office of the Solicitor General [OSG] will eliminate redundant, duplicative and overlapping functions since the OSG, OGCC and PCGG only serve one client—the Republic of the Philippines,” Calida said, in a statement. “The integration of the functions of the OGCC and PCGG will promote the use of alternative dispute mechanisms, avoid protracted court litigations, and encourage consistency in the legal position of government agencies.”
Calida made the statement after Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and House justice committee chairman, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali filed House Bill 5233 seeking to abolish the PCGG and OGCC and transfer all its authorities and responsibilities to the OSG, whose head will have the rank of a Cabinet secretary.
The proposed measure, which will become the OSG charter, proposes to authorize the Solicitor General to grant immunity from criminal prosecution to any person who provides information or testifies in any investigation previously conducted by the PCGG or future cases investigated by the OSG involving ill-gotten wealth.
Appearing before the House committee on justice, Calida maintained that the OSG has been representing the government in ill-gotten wealth cases since the PCGG's creation.
Calida also noted several instances when GOCCs sought the OSG’s counsel instead of the OGCC, citing the cases involving GOCCs such as the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, Philippine Ports Authority, Philippine Economic Zone Authority and Manila International Airport Authority.
Instead of the Department of Justice, OSG will now be attached to the Office of the President for budgetary purposes under the proposed bill.
According to Calida, this is more in accord with the constitution, as the President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices.
“Considering that the President is the primary client of the OSG, this setup will secure the fiduciary relationship between the two offices. The position of the OSG in a lot of cases have policy ramifications,” Calida pointed out.
The bill also grants the OSG fiscal autonomy, which will allow the Solicitor General to acquire a new building to house additional lawyers and administrative personnel that will be hired as a consequence of the expansion.
“This is a welcome opportunity to promote the government’s policy to right-size the bureaucracy,” Calida said.
“The benefits of a streamlined and more efficient bureaucracy that results from the proposed bill cannot be quantified,” the chief state lawyer added.