Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday opposed anew the sale of Philippine properties in Japan a day after President Rodrigo Duterte said proceeds from a possible sale could be used to sustain the operations of PhilHealth.
“I will never agree to the sale of our properties in Japan for any reason. Sell the properties of the departments of budget, treasury, health above all for its lousy response to Covid,” he said in a tweet.
He argued that several government agencies have properties that are idle.
“I don’t mean the secretaries. The properties are idle. Imagine selling our Japan properties to fund the programs of DOH? Rob PhilHealth some more instead. They’re good at that,” he said.
Duterte on Monday said the government would sell its real estate properties in Japan to raise money for the beleaguered PhilHealth that had been beset with anomalies and corruption.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, clarified on Tuesday that the call was a mere “suggestion” should the Philippines need to augment its fund to respond against the pandemic.
“Ito ay isang suhestiyon lang, kung kinakailangan pa natin ng pondo para sa Covid response. Pero fortunately maraming gaya ng Razon Group, nandiyan na rin po ang MVP Group, nandiyan na rin po iyong Ayala Group na tumutulong naman po sa gobyerno sa pagbibigay po ng mga pangangailangan natin sa Covid. So sana po hindi na kinakailangang magbenta ng mga assets (This is only a suggestion if ever we need more funds for our Covid response. Fortunately, there are many like the Razon Group, MVP Group, and the Ayala Group helping the government with its needs against Covid. Hopefully, there won’t be a need to sell the assets),” he said.
Roque also noted that two of the properties were already declared by the Supreme Court as assets that “constitute part of the national patrimony” as these were acquired under the war reparations agreement with Tokyo.
“Kinakailangan kung ibibenta iyan, hindi lang po Presidente ang sasang-ayon kung hindi pati po ang Kongreso (If it will be put on sale, the decision does not only depend on the President but also Congress,” he explained.
Locsin early this month revealed that there was also a “plot” to dispose the country’s Japan properties supposedly to fund assistance for Philippine war veterans and their families.
The Philippines has acquired five real estate properties in Tokyo and Kobe in Japan, four of which are part of the 1956 reparations agreement. One of the assets, the Roppongi property in Tokyo, is currently used as chancery by the Philippine Embassy in Japan. PNA.GOV.PH