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Aquino abolishes Presidential Anti-Graft Commission

President Benigno Aquino III has formalized the abolition of the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) with his latest executive order transferring its functions to an existing office. Executive Order No. 13, signed November 15 but released only on Wednesday, abolished the PAGC to enable the Office of the President to directly investigate graft and corrupt cases of presidential appointees in the executive department, including heads of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs). The PAGC’s investigative, adjudicatory, recommendatory, and other functions were transferred to the Office of the Deputy Secretary for Legal Affairs (ODESLA), which is under the Office of the President. The abolition of the PAGC is in line with the Aquino administration’s policy of streamlining the government bureaucracy “to promote economy and efficiency in government," the EO said. “The PAGC is an example of the kind of redundancies we want to eliminate in government to allow us to better allocate our limited resources. It doesn’t make sense to have two or more government offices do the same thing. It’s wasteful and inefficient," said Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo" Ochoa Jr. in a statement on Wednesday. PAGC was created in April 2001 by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to probe and hear administrative cases and complaints against presidential appointees. Ochoa had earlier said the Aquino administration will abolish the PAGC and nine other agencies because their functions are similar to the functions of other offices. Aside from the PAGC, Malacañang did not propose 2011 budgets for the following government bodies: - Mindanao Development Council; - Office of the North Luzon Quadrangle Area; - Office of External Affairs; - Minerals Development Council; - Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group; - Luzon Urban Beltway Super Region; - Bicol River Basin Watershed Management Project; - Office of the Presidential Adviser on Global Warming and Climate Change, and - Office of the Presidential Adviser on New Government Centers According to EO No. 13, personnel affected by the abolition of PAGC can avail of benefits provided under existing laws, if applicable. The EO ordered the Department of Budget and Management to release the necessary funds for the benefits. Ochoa said his office will also work with the DBM to ensure the smooth transition of the PAGC’s activities to his department by the end of the year. EO 13 also created the Investigative and Adjudicatory Division under ODESLA, which will be responsible for the investigative and adjudicative functions of the PAGC. The current officer-in-charge of ODESLA is Assistant Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Ronaldo Geron, who has previously served as provincial administrator of Batangas and member of the provincial board. Geron graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1987 and passed the Bar exams the following year. He has taught courses on local governments, labor law, and constitutional law at the University of Batangas. - KBK, GMANews.TV