MANILA, December 8, 2004
(STAR) By Marichu Villanueva - President Arroyo has abolished the controversial Public Estates Authority (PEA) and replaced it with the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) to perform all its powers and functions relating to reclamation activities.

"Reclamation has been identified as one of the primary sources of government revenue under the Medium-Term Development Plan for the years 2004 to 2010 and should be managed by one authority," the President said in Executive Order 380, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR yesterday.

After the previous 12th Congress failed to act on her endorsed bill seeking to abolish the PEA, the President took this action through EO 380 she issued last Oct. 26, or even while the 13th Congress is still in session.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the President enjoys legislative powers such as abolishing chartered government bodies or those created by law only when Congress is not in session.

To implement this latest reorganization, Mrs. Arroyo invoked anew her continuing authority to reorganize the bureaucracy under the 1987 Administrative Code without waiting for congressional action on her proposed abolition of the PEA.

As an obvious contingency measure in case the legality and validity of EO 380 is challenged in court, the President provided a separability clause that "any portion or provision of this Executive Order that may be declared unconstitutional shall not have the effect of nullifying other portions or provisions of the Order for as long as such remaining portions can still subsist and give effect."

In the same EO, Mrs. Arroyo moved the non-reclamation assets and liabilities of the PEA to the Department of Finance (DOF) where she temporarily transferred this government agency previously attached to the Office of the President.

The President also transferred the PEA Tollway Corp. from the PEA to the National Development Corp., a government-owned and controlled corporation under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Under EO 380, Mrs. Arroyo acknowledged that the PEA was created under Presidential Decree No. 1084, which "was established to provide for a coordinated, economical and efficient administration of lands and real estate, especially reclaimed lands, belonging to, managed and/or operated by the government."

PD 1084 also mandated the PEA to be primarily responsible for integrating, directing and coordinating all reclamation projects for and on behalf of the national government.

The PEA was tasked to develop, improve, administer, deal in, subdivide, dispose, lease and sell any and all kinds of lands, buildings, estates and other forms of real property owned, managed, controlled and/or operated by the government and thus held assets on behalf of the national government.

However in 2002, the President proposed to Congress the abolition of the PEA and directed the agency to phase out its activities and transfer the assets held by it to the DOF following the alleged P600 million overpricing scandal in the construction of the 4.9 kilometer President Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, the stretch of road in the reclamation area running parallel to Roxas Boulevard.

With the exception of the assets and liabilities of the PEA on its reclamation functions which shall be retained with the PRA, the President ordered all other assets of the PEA be "transferred without cost to the DOF."

In turn, she directed the DOF to transfer such assets and liabilities of the PEA to the appropriate government agencies.

The President issued EO 199 on April 21, 2002 which provided for the transfer of the PEA from the Office of the President to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Subsequently, she issued EO 329 on July 19 of the same year, transferring the PEA from the DPWH to the DOF.

Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin earlier told The STAR that the PEA assets would originally be "subsumed" to the planned creation of the Philippine Infrastructure Corp. (PIC).

"While it is already abolished, PEA still has the assets which would be subsumed to the PIC and make use of these assets," Boncodin said.

The President earlier announced before a businessmenís forum that the PIC was created to principally bankroll, through both private and government investments, various infrastructure projects under her 10-point "legacy" program for the next six years.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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