Date Posted : 2011-12-01
Philippine Association of Government Corporate Lawyers, Inc.
1st General Assembly
Forum Hall, Airport Casino Filipino, Paranaque City
7 July 2011
- Raoul C. Creencia -
Government Corporate Counsel
His Excellency Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, PAGCLAW President, Atty. Ric Arlanza, outgoing and incoming members of the PAGCLAW Board of Trustees, PAGCOR President and COO Atty. Jorge V. Sarmiento, PAGCOR, by the way, is our host this afternoon, my fellow lawyers in the government corporate sector, guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen, good evening!
The Philippine Association of Government Corporate Lawyers or PAGCLAW is a young organization whose time has come. As lawyers of the various government owned and controlled corporations, government instrumentalities with corporate powers, government corporate entities, and government financial institutions, we find ourselves in a challenging era of reforms. This is why, today, perhaps more than any other time in the history of the government corporate sector, there is a much greater need to strengthen the ties between and among us - the legal service providers.
This is why I thank you all for participating in this afternoon’s 1st PAGCLAW General Assembly. Nakakatuwa pong makita na ang dami po natin ngayon. Marahil ito'y pagpapatunay na tayong mga abogado sa mga pampublikong korporasyon ay mangunguna sa pagtugon sa panawagan para sa malawakang reporma.
Ang ating pagtitipon ngayon ay isang magandang simulain. And this was made more significant and meaningful by the presence of our guest of honor - Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Simula pa lang ito para sa PAGCLAW. We will soon be organizing other activities, such as lectures on topics of common concerns, MCLE programs, and other fora beneficial to all government corporate lawyers.
Our theme today is "PAGCLAW Amid Reforms in the Government Corporate Sector". In this regard, let me now engage you in a simple exercise. Let us momentarily imagine that we are not part of government; that we are not lawyers even. Let us imagine that we are just a bunch of critical observers. Let us imagine that we are outsiders looking in, that we are simple stakeholders looking for answers.
What do you think will we see?
Perhaps we will see GOCCs with approximately $141 billion in assets, and also surely see that this is much bigger, almost double, than the national government's assets worth P2.8 trillion. Maybe we will also see that in 2009, total expenditures of GOCCs consisted of 28% of the national government’s total expenditures; and that 91 percent of the National Government's receivables or about P433 billion are due from GOCCs.
As critical observers, we will also note the P85.4 billion aggregate deficit of the major GOCCs in the past 5 years. It will surely not escape us that the significant financial losses of the GOCCs contribute to the public sector debt; and that as of last quarter alone, the government had borrowed P64.7 billion for GOCCs. Finally, we will surely hear the clarion's call for reform by no less than President Aquino himself, in fact best articulated with the recent passage of the GOCC Governance Act of 2011.
These are the things that we will see. A sector that is so much a part of our national life... A sector that has its strong and undeniable presence in almost everything -- from energy to ecozones, from banking and finance to gaming, from infrastructure to water, from transportation to communication, and many more.
With this backdrop, imagine the concomitant challenge of providing efficient, responsive and competent legal service to this multi-billion dollar portfolio. Imagine how a socially responsive and sound legal advice can surely and positively influence the management and formulation of their legal and fiscal policies. Imagine if we have a breed of lawyers who are willing to take on this challenge. Imagine.
My fellow lawyers and public servants in the corporate sector, we can now stop imagining. The truth is, the reality is, we are in a position to make a difference. We can be a catalyst for reform.
Our respective positions, either as in-house or statutory counsel, or as director, trustee, or legal consultant, require us, as a matter of duty, to influence decisions based on sound legal advice. It is our duty to render consistent and credible advice not only taking into account legal considerations but, more importantly, the public interest.Ako po ay naniniwala na lahat tayo ay handang gampanan o di kaya'y ginagampanan na ang tungkuling ito.
As government corporate lawyers, and in the performance of our duty, we must not only have a unified and principled vision, but also a visionary and unifying principle to purposely help steer our GOCCs towards a more socially-attuned and patriotically-inspired governance.
As lawyers called upon to check on past misdeeds, we must objectively and courageously evaluate and re-examine the transactions of the previous boards and executive officers of our respective corporations.
I am glad to note that actions towards this end are on-going in various corporations, and I specifically commend PAGCOR and PCSO for leading in these efforts. Lawyers in PAGCOR and PCSO are in forefront in exorcising and cleansing their respective corporations.
Indeed, we must all be on the same page in this regard. We must share the same passion and mission. Surely, the government, our government under President Benigno Aquino and our guest Vice President Jejomar Binay, expects the entire government machinery to work as a cohesive and well-coordinated whole - and we lawyers in government are not exempt in this regard.
It follows that the legal advice we offer must always have regard to the big picture across agency and portfolio boundaries, because that is the way our principals, our clients, the GOCCs, will assess our advice and judge its usefulness. As lawyers, we must be focused on solving the problem presented before us, and not on expounding the law. It means giving short and sharp advice that deals with the real issue under consideration. It means focusing presentations so they cut straight to the heart of the matter. It means understanding how our advice can help our principals achieve the desired goals. It means providing options wherever possible; preparing advice that takes account of whole of government issues; and attending to the fundamentals of good service.
We all know that our sector is in the middle of serious reform efforts. We must, as lawyers, seize the opportunity to positively contribute to this not-so-impossible dream of catapulting the GOCCs into real gems in the firmament of our nation’s economic and social life.
I have no doubt in my mind that we – together – can truly make an absolutely essential contribution to improving and reforming the government corporations. And with PAGCLAW as our vehicle, we can surely enhance our efforts in this regard. With the passage of the GOCC Governance Act of 2011, the time of bureaucratic fiefdoms is now over.Dahil dito, tapos na rin po ang panahon na para bagang may kanya-kanyang mundo ang mga abugado sa mga GOCCs. Panahon na para tayo’y mag-isa at maki-isa sa layuning mapaganda at mapa-ayos ang palakad ng ating mga kliyenteng korporasyon.
Let us be the best lawyers we can be in the service of our country.
Thank you and good evening to you all!
Philippine Association of Water Districts
11 February 2011, Davao City
- Raoul C. Creencia -
Government Corporate Counsel
President Nestor “Gang” Villasin, the other officers and members of the Philippine Association of Water Districts (PAWD), Delegates, Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Evening.
It is a great honor to be with you tonight as you are about to end your 32nd PAWD National Convention.
I am glad to be a part of this national gathering of men and women who matters; men and women who correctly acknowledge that indeed “water matters”, men and women who found time to deliberate and discuss on matters about water.
Indeed, you have spent the past few days in this convention, to renew and strengthen your ties, to discuss common issues and concerns, and to further push your common advocacy – that is to provide adequate and sustainable water for all.
Managing and securing access to water and sanitation for all is one of the most challenging items in our government’s agenda today. It requires us to rethink the governance structure of water so we can all proactively address all issues and concerns on water sustainability in our country.
It is in this regard that I congratulate you all, particularly the leadership of PAWD, for organizing a timely and informative convention that focuses on addressing these various water concerns.
There are indeed multifarious concerns relative to water. Today, we are challenged by two interrelated and key water challenges. First, we all know that water is being mismanaged and unsustainably used. Secondly, leaders, policy-makers and managers are not living up to their promise of ensuring access to adequate water and sanitation services for all.
There simply are so many pressing issues hounding the water sector in our country; and there are no one-size-fits-all answers. But solutions do exist, and I am sure you have discussed these in your convention, and I am equally sure that you know that most of these solutions have to do with better policies, governance and management.
Good governance and effective management of all local water districts has become more imperative today more than ever. As a little boy, I have always assumed that there would always be sufficient and cheap water to meet human needs within an environmentally sustainable scenario. I thought then that the vast waters in the seas and the oceans, and the rainfall that comes regularly was enough to sustain the needs of humankind. Unfortunately, it is now clear that this is simply not true. As they say, water is the new oil.
A growing number of countries or regions are facing increasing competition for water resources by domestic, industrial and agricultural users – or between users and environmental needs. According to some studies, by 2030, 3.9 billion people will live in areas under severe water stress; mostly in South Asia and China. That is about one billion more people than today. This increasing competition is in fact happening here in our own country, and in your own localities.
Governance is a key instrument to address the challenges of water resources. There is a need to understand such challenges when designing and implementing effective water policies, including the complex political economy of water policy reforms.
There is therefore a need for greater policy coherence, both horizontally and vertically among different institutions, and this is where PAWD can play a crucial role.
We must, for example, be able to or at least help identify governance aspects that can facilitate private sector engagement in the provision and financing of water services, as well as their efficient and effective delivery to all. We must be ready to consider the diversity of private actors involved in the water sector. In fine, it is time for a major cultural change regarding our relation to water. We urgently need new policies, reforms, firmer commitments and innovation.
Whether we like it or not, that is the reality, and that is the challenge. With organizations like PAWD, and with individual local water districts who feel and read the pulse of every local community, I am confident that the effort to attain sound policy does have prime and inspired movers, and that is all of you.
And as you go about this daunting task, be assured that there will be a steady hand that will support you, specifically in your legal needs and concerns. The OGCC will continue to be a strong partner of all local water districts nationwide, and our lawyers are ever ready to heed your call for assistance.
I began my OGCC stint only in November last year and, just two days ago, I marked my 100th day in office. I do not intend to bore you with my 100-Day Report tonight, but let me just tell you one recent OGCC milestones and its significance to us.
Last December 1, the OGCC celebrated its 75th anniversary – our “75 Years of Service… Diamond Years of Upholding Justice.” Our Diamond Anniversary gave us an opportunity to make a serious introspection of what the office has become after 75 years. It made us ponder and ask: has the OGCC actually matured in scholarship and in service after 75 years? Have we actually become an epitome of a diamond jubilarian? Have we actually imbibed the characteristics of a diamond? What are these characteristics?
- In terms of hardness, durability and strength, diamond is the hardest substance found in nature. It is four times harder than the next hardest mineral in the world (corundum - ruby and sapphire).
- In terms of clarity, diamond is the most transparent over a larger range of wavelengths, and is best compared to any other solid or liquid substance.
- In terms of thermal conductivity, diamond conducts heat better than anything, in fact five times better than the second best element, silver.
- In terms of melting point, diamond has the highest melting point at 3,820 degrees Kelvin.
- In terms of lattice density, the atoms of a diamond are packed closer together than are the atoms of any substance.
These are the same characteristics that we seek to imbibe. Yes, your OGCC has resolved to evolve – that it must be a diamond, and that it should constantly strive to attain the perfection of a diamond.
This is why, you now have a diamond OGCC that is stronger than ever; that will articulate your position more clearly than ever; that will not melt under pressure; and whose team of lawyers will work much closer together in the service of its clients.
We are your lawyers, and you are our valued clients.
Once again, thank you for inviting me here and I look forward to a stronger partnership with you in uplifting our country’s water sector.
Mabuhay kayong lahat at maraming salamat po!
OGCC’s Diamond Anniversary Message
(1 December 2010)
To my dear colleagues in the OGCC, good morning!
Today, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) celebrates its 75 years of service, and Diamond years of upholding justice.75 na tayo, diamond na tayo. Pero, ang tanong, diamond nga ba tayo? Totoong diamanté nga ba tayo? Sapat na ba ang basta kuminang at maging makintab para masabing tayo’y isang diamanté?
To celebrate diamond years is one thing, but to be able to actually claim that we have imbibed the characteristics of a diamond itself is another. So the question is, what does it take to be a diamond? How do we actually become a real diamond jubilarian?
Diamond is renowned as a material with superlative physical qualities. It is the ultimate gemstone, with few weaknesses and many strengths.
This should make us ponder and ask: does the OGCC, after 75 years, possess the same superlative qualities? Like a diamond, do we have many strengths and with only few weaknesses?
It is well known that diamond is the hardest substance found in nature. Diamond is in fact four times harder than the next hardest natural mineral, corundum (sapphire and ruby). It is, therefore, not surprising that the term Diamond actually comes from the ancient Greek αδάμας – adámas, which means "unbreakable". It is four times harder than the second hardest natural mineral.
Again, this makes us ponder and reflect: After 75 years, are we at least four times better, four times more efficient, four times more competent than any other legal service provider in the government? Are we unbreakable and truly united in pursuing our office's mission and vision?
Indeed, have we in fact somehow measured up to the characteristics and attributes of a diamond? Let us go over some of these attributes one by one.
In terms of hardness, Diamond measures four times harder than sapphire. As I said, it is the hardest substance. Has 75 years really hardened the resolve of each and very member of the OGCC family to pursue its mandate with vigor? Have we all been hardened and molded by the ennobling values that inspired the creation of this office?
In terms of clarity, do you know that a Diamond is transparent over a larger range of wavelengths (from the ultraviolet into the far infrared)? Do you know that a diamond's transparency is the best compared to any other solid or liquid substance? After 75 years, are we transparent in our dealings with our clients? After 75 years, are we transparent to the Filipino people who are the real stakeholders of all government corporations?
In terms of thermal conductivity, Diamond conducts heat better than anything - five times better than the second best element, Silver! Are we, after 75 years, five times more efficient, five times more hardworking, or at least five times better than when this office started in 1935?
In terms of melting point, Diamond has the highest melting point at 3,820 degrees Kelvin. With this we ask: Do we easily melt under pressure? Have we allowed our idealism to melt with the passage of time?
In terms of lattice density, the atoms of Diamond are packed closer together than are the atoms of any other substance. This is a unique characteristic. But have we actually developed this? After 75 years, and specifically for most of you, after 10 to 24, or even 30 years in the OGCC, have you grown closer together in the service of our clients and of one another? Are we, like the atoms of a diamond, so closely packed together to withstand the challenges of our work?
It is easy to say, happy diamond anniversary! But we have to really understand what it means to be a diamond. In our diamond anniversary today, let us ponder upon its unique qualities and strive to achieve them. Today, let us endeavor to henceforth become diamonds.
Maraming salamat po!
YEAR-END FORUM ON GOOD GOVERNANCE
DBP Bulwagan ng Diwang Pilipino, DBP Building
Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City
1 December 2011
- Raoul C. Creencia -
Government Corporate Counsel
Hon. Chairman of the Governance Commission for GOCCs, Dean Cesar L. Villanueva,
GCG Commissioners Rainier Butalid and Angela Ignacio, PAGCLAW President Ricardo
Arlanza, Directors, Trustees and Officers of various government corporations,
the hardworking lawyers in the government corporate sector, guests, friends,
ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon!
Today, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) is 76 years old. It
was then a small corporate counsel division under the Department of Justice
(DOJ). But its humble beginnings did not stymie the likes of the late former
Senator and Supreme Court Justice Ramon Diokno from serving as its head. In
1950, it was later formally known and referred to as the OGCC, pursuant to
Executive Order 392. In 1959, Republic Act 2327, generally referred to as the
Charter of OGCC, was signed into law. This was later amended in 1963 through
Republic Act 3838, defining the powers of the OGCC as statutory legal counsel of
all GOCCs. It also placed all GOCC legal departments under its control and
supervision. The Administrative Code of 1987 further reinforced the unique role
of the OGCC as statutory counsel of all GOCCs, their subsidiaries, other
corporate offspring, government financial institutions, government corporate
entities, and government acquired asset corporations – which I collectively
refer to as GOCCs.
The OGCC has since undergone various changes over the past decades, but its
metamorphosis is far from over. Amid reforms being undertaken in the government
corporate sector, the OGCC continues to be more responsive to the growing and
changing needs of the GOCCs. Today, the OGCC’s new Charter is pending in
Congress which, when passed into law, and hopefully soon, shall further
strengthen the OGCC's role and enable it to better serve its client
I joined the OGCC exactly thirteen months ago, or in November 2010. Since then,
a “back to basics” approach was adopted, applying a simple ABC Formula. What is
the ABC Formula? Able Lawyers, Better Service and Clearer Rules.
Conformably with its Able Lawyers program, the OGCC has conducted various
in-house lectures and training to OGCC lawyers and staff. Moreover, to date,
through the Institute of Public Corporate Governance (IPCG), and in partnership
with PAGCLAW, two rounds of 36-unit MCLE courses for government corporate
lawyers have been completed, with many more scheduled in the coming months. Also
included of course is an OGCC in-house MCLE program.
Better Service. The OGCC continues to work hard and improve its service to its
clients. Thirteen months ago, there were more than one hundred backlog and
pending requests for opinion and contract reviews. About three months later,
this backlog was trimmed down to zero. Concededly, there have been slippages in
the past couple of months, but never exceeding 10% of the total volume, compared
to a much higher backlog percentage in the past several years.
Clearer Rules. Various memorandum circulars governing internal matters,
policies and procedures have been issued, including the standard convention for
OGCC pleadings, opinion and contract review, as well as the rational guidelines
on the sourcing, collection and distribution of assessments and fees. Aside from
this, the OGCC has also revised its implementing rules and regulations. In
fact, today, we formally introduce and distribute these 2011 Revised Rules. As
will later be explained by AGCC Bel Derayunan, the revised rules shall
emphasize, among others, the OGCC’s various regular and special duties, the
procedure for sending requests and referral of cases, as well as the arbitration
rules in cases of conflict between and among government corporations.
As the OGCC celebrates its 76th Anniversary today, we stand with you and by you,
our clients and our fellow lawyers in the government corporate sector. We are
with you, ever more strongly committed to perform our mandate as your counsel
and legal service provider.
It will be recalled that during the first assembly five months ago, we adopted
the theme - "PAGCLAW Amid Reforms in the Government Corporate Sector". Today’s
Year-End Forum on Good Governance is a continuation of our collective pursuit to
answer, in our humble way, the clarion call for reforms in the government
corporate sector. What better way to do this than to support, partner with, and
sync all our efforts according to the policies and guidelines that will be laid
down by the newly created Governance Commission for GOCCs.
Reforming the GOCCs, with approximately $141 billion in assets, and whose
activities greatly impact the country’s economic life, and whose presence is
everywhere -- from energy to ecozones, from banking and finance to gaming, from
infrastructure to water, from transportation to communication -- is indeed a
herculean task. A huge part of that task is now on the shoulders of the GCG.
This is why, Chairperson Villanueva, we would like you to know that the OGCC
and the lawyers in the GOCCs are very much behind you and the entire GCG, as you
initiate the timely and needed reforms in the government corporate sector.
The GCG can be assured that we shall always view our work as lawyers in the
larger context of government corporate reforms. As I have underscored during our
General Assembly last July, the legal advice of the OGCC shall always have due
regard to the big picture across agency and portfolio boundaries because we
believe that is the way our clients will assess our advice and judge its
usefulness and wisdom.
Before I end, allow me to express my sincere gratitude to all of you for your
presence, you have indeed made OGCC’s 76th Anniversary a truly meaningful one.
To our counterpart lawyers in the GOCCs, let us continue to work more closely
together so that the government corporate sector will have the soundest and best
legal advise and legal support it can ever have.
Colleagues, let us be the best lawyers we can be in the service of our country.
Maraming salamat po at Mabuhay tayong lahat!