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Philippines: PCGG owes it to the people to grow a spine and go after Marcoses

"This is not the time for PCGG to abdicate its responsibility to the people, to Philippine democracy."

That was the statement Akbayan released following the news that the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) recommended Malacanang to allow the agency "to wind down operations" running after the ill-gotten wealth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his family after almost 27 years.
According to Akbayan Representative Walden Bello, PCGG "has no business whining about the lackluster chances of the agency to complete its mission when victims of Martial Law tirelessly seek justice for the dictator's human rights abuses."

"PCGG's recent pronouncement is tantamount to surrendering to the Marcoses, it is shameful conduct for an institution that was trusted precisely with the responsibility to make the Marcoses accountable for abuse of power," Bello said.

One step forward, two steps back

"In fact, in Congress, we are ready to go to bicameral conference committee with the Compensation Act for victims of human rights violations during the dictatorship. This is finally one step forward for those who suffered during the dictator's regime, certainly, this is not the time for PCGG to take two steps back," Bello said.

The Akbayan lawmaker firmly believed that restorative justice, justice that will heal the wounds of a nation that endured Martial Law and ensure that such abuses will not happen again, is only possible through the following: the passage of the Compensation Act into a law, the recovery of ill-gotten wealth, and the inclusion of Martial Law atrocities in the public education curriculum.

"The odds are stacked against the Filipino people in the fight to correct the abuses of that dark chapter in our history, but that is no reason for PCGG to give up the fight," Bello said.

For Bello, the conduct of PCGG will be crucial in attaining restorative justice, and this is very important at a time when the Marcoses are back in political prominence and are making grand efforts to rewrite history to erase the haunting memories of Martial Law atrocities.

"The Filipino people are fighting against the Marcoses' efforts to rewrite history, we are nearly victorious in giving the victims of martial law justice that they have long deserved. The PCGG must grow a spine and renew their commitment to justice against the Marcoses, otherwise they condemn the Filipino people to a recurrence of that dark history," Bello concluded.

Akbayan is at the helm of efforts to pass the Compensation Act for Human Rights Victims, which is pending the bicameral conference committee meeting, and is also united with the Commission on Human Rights, the National Youth Commission and the Commission on Higher Education to incorporate the attrocities of Martial Law into the education curriculum.