Press Release
June 6, 2013

Bill to strengthen the Government Corporation
Counsel Office gets Senate nod

A bill which aims to strengthen the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) by re-defining, expanding, rationalizing and professionalizing its organization, was passed by the Senate today on third and final reading.

The OGCC was mandated to be the "premier law office" of government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), their subsidiaries and other corporate offspring, including government-acquired asset corporations.

"The OGCC is mandated to safeguard the legal interests of GOCCs in a competent, speedy and adequate legal service in its commitment to uphold justice under the rule of the law," Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights and sponsor of the bill, said.

"Every year, an increasing number of requests for legal advice and cases is being responded to and handled by the OGCC, in addition to the performance of its adjudicatory and other functions," he added.

Under the proposed measure, all government corporations should refer to the OGCC for legal questions either for opinion and advice, all contracts for review prior to their execution, and all cases for representation before regular courts, quasi-judicial bodies, administrative agencies and arbitral tribunals.

In some cases, the OGCC can also conciliate, mediate and act as hearing officers or adjudicate all disputes or controversies exclusively between government corporations, exercise control and supervision over the legal departments of all government corporations, approve the engagement of private lawyers by the government corporations, and serve as corporate secretary in all governing boards of government corporations.

The OGCC will be headed by the Government Corporate Counsel (GCC), who will have a cabinet rank, same prerogatives, salary, allowances, benefits and privileges as a presiding justice of the Court of Appeals, according to the proposed bill. The GCC will be assisted by a Deputy Government Corporate Counsel (DGCC) and 12 Assistant Government Corporate Counsels (AGCC) who will have the rank, salary, allowances, retirement benefits, and privileges of an associate justice of the Court of Appeals.

Non-legal personnel will have the same compensation as their counterparts in the Office of the Solicitor General and Court of Appeals and may receive health care services through a health maintenance organization (HMO), accident insurance for travels while performing their official duties, scholarships and provident fund according to the proposed bill.

Senate Bill No. 3358 also states that the OGCC is "authorized to receive 20 percent of all the money claims collected by, or awarded/adjudged to government corporations in addition to the attorney's fees awarded by a court, tribunal or panel including awards/judgments, stipulated under court-approved compromises."

"To efficiently and effectively address the expanding needs of these government corporations, this proposed bill seeks to strengthen the OGCC by re-defining, expanding, strengthening, rationalizing and further professionalizing the OGCC as an organization and upgrading the benefits of the employees," Escudero said. (APPLE BUENAVENTURA, PRIB)

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