By Jeffrey Damicog
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has expressed satisfaction that the legislators have decided not to abolish the Philippine Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC).
Guevarra made the statement after the Senate approved on third and final reading on Tuesday Senate Bill 1823 which sought to expand the powers and capabilities of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) without the need to abolish the PCGG and OGCC.
“To the extent that the bill has proposed to keep the PCGG and the OGCC under the wings of the DOJ (Department of Justice) and has further empowered the OSG, I am satisfied,” said Guevarra.
The OSG, PCGG and OGCC are agencies attached under the DOJ.
Previously, Guevarra expressed opposition to bills seeking to abolish the PCGG and OGCC and have their functions absorbed by the OSG which was proposed to become a separate entity from the DOJ.
Senate Bill 1823 which was sponsored by Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, was approved with 16 votes.
The bill took into consideration seven other similar Senate bills introduced by Gordon, who said the bill would primarily amend Executive Order 292 or the Administrative Code and Republic Act 9417.
It introduces provisions that directly address the most important challenges faced by the OSG such as those involving the hiring of new lawyers, skills training and specialization, and modernization of equipment, among others.
“The Office of the Solicitor General is in dire need of competent, dedicated and honest lawyers to perform its mandate of being the people’s tribune and the legal defender of the Republic of the Philippines. We need to aid the OSG to take on this formidable task,” Gordon said.
Gordon said the bill expands the powers of the OSG to “conciliate, mediate, administratively settle, or adjudicate all disputes, claims, and controversies involving mixed questions of fact and law, or questions of fact only, solely between or among the departments, bureaus, offices, agencies, and instrumentalities of the national government, including constitutional offices or agencies.”