House justice committee OKs bill strengthening OGCC

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

November 15, 2023, 5:53 pm

<p><em>(PNA File Photo)</em></p>

(PNA File Photo)

MANILA – A measure strengthening the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) by upgrading existing positions and creating new ones hurdled committee level at the House of Representatives.

Parañaque City Rep. Edwin Olivarez, author of the bill, said the additional complement of lawyers and the upgrading of existing positions in the OGCC are necessary to maintain its effectiveness in addressing the legal needs of its clients, particularly corporations that did not have internal legal departments.

During the hearing, the House Committee on Justice, chaired by Negros Occidental Rep. Juliet Marie de Leon Ferrer, approved the unnumbered substitute bill on House Bills 6493, 6502, 8996, 9333 and 9385.

Olivarez said the evolution and broadening of the scope of activities of government corporations have increased the volume, complexity, and importance of the work of the OGCC.

"The OGCC's vital role in nation-building is evident in its stalwart legal support to its client corporations. The assistance it renders is based on institutional knowledge and specialization, given the vast experience and collective wisdom which it has achieved in almost a century of public service," Olivarez said.

OGCC Government Corporate Counsel Rogelio Quevedo, meanwhile, said the measure already addresses the veto of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last July 2022 of the legislation upgrading positions and streamlining the OGCC's organizational structure.

The previous bill was vetoed due to what was deemed to be excessive salaries for OGCC lawyers.

“The main concern only of this bill is to institutionalize the increased number and the need for more lawyers of the OGCC which has not increased since the 1980s,” Quevedo said.

He noted that the OGCC lagged behind the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in terms of the salary scale of their lawyers, which has been fixed since the 1980s.

The panel also approved in principle House Bill 9194, entitled the "Digital Prison Record System Act," authored by Senior Deputy Majority Leader Ferdinand Alexander Marcos, PINUNO Party-list Rep. Ivan Howard Guintu, Caloocan City Rep. Dean Asistio, Isabela Rep. Faustino Dy, Quezon City Rep. Ralph Wendel Tulfo and AGIMAT Party-list Rep. Bryan Revilla.

The measure seeks to digitize the records of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) to expedite the judicial process, enhance transparency in detention and correctional facilities, and improve the management of pending cases. (PNA)