September 15 ------ Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Monday revealed a “plot” to sell the four prime Philippine properties in Japan apparently to fund the plight of Filipino veterans. In a series of tweets, Locsin likened the move to dispose of the government properties in Japan to a “second Pearl Harbor perpetrated by Filipinos on our own patrimony.”
“Dollar patriotism. Not while I am alive,” he said, adding that his office has already sent its position to Congress opposing the sale. Locsin, however, did not identify those behind the alleged sale although rumors have been circulating for months that a certain group of Filipinos together with their Japanese counterparts had been reportedly setting a meeting with DFA and Philippine Embassy officials in Tokyo to discuss the offer to buy or lease the properties on a long term basis.
“There are other ways to help Veterans – BCDA (Bases Conversion and Development Authority) was sold for them but proceeds were stolen. We already sent our opposition to Congress,” the DFA chief said. Among the properties that are being eyed for disposal are the following: 3,179 square meter property in the hip area of Roppongi; 2,489.96 square meter lot in Nampeidai, Shibuya, and the 64.72 square-meter residential property in Kobe.
These properties were obtained by the Philippines under the war reparation agreement with Japan on May 9, 1956. Last month, Locsin expressed his strong objection to the sale of Philippine government properties abroad, amid speculations that certain groups are reportedly working behind the scene to sell government overseas assets to fund the effort against COVID-19 (coronavirus pandemic 2019) pandemic.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs opposes the sale of its properties abroad, especially in key capitals. We have meanwhile turned down all proposals of acquisition of properties abroad in this pandemic,” Locsin said in a tweet. He said the DFA has already re-aligned its budget of around P1 billion originally for the retrofitting of the DFA building to help in the government’s anti-COVID-19 campaign.
In the late 1980s, the 3,179 square-meter Roppongi property made the headlines when former Vice President and Senator Salvador Laurel went to the Supreme Court to block government efforts to sell the prime property. On February 20, 1990, the High Court sided with Laurel by stopping the sale of the property, noting that the laws on conversion and disposition of property of public dominion must be faithfully followed. At the onset of the pandemic last April, President Duterte vowed to source out funds, even to the extent of borrowing money or selling state properties “if necessary” to spend for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine.