Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima is opposed to Mr. Duterte’s idea of selling the country’s war reparation properties in Japan because of its symbolic and material significance for the country.
De Lima, a human rights defender here and abroad, filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 535 urging Mr. Duterte and the Congress to terminate all efforts to sell properties of the Philippines in Japan and preserve these assets as legacy for the future generation of Filipinos.
“The sale of these properties would diminish the historical significance of the same and rid our future generations of yet another reminder of the bravery of our forefathers in defending our country against seemingly insurmountable forces during World War II,” she said.
“The President and Congress must resist any efforts to sell these properties and preserve the same for our future generations to celebrate and enjoy,” she added.
Last Sept. 28, Mr. Duterte revealed his government’s plan to sell Philippine real estate properties in Japan to raise funds for Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), saying that the graft-ridden state insurer might end up cash-strapped if it would not be given interventions.
The Philippine government acquired four properties in Tokyo and Kobe under the war reparation agreement with Japan on May 9, 1956, following World War II. These include the Ropponggi and Nampeidai properties in Tokyo, and the Noniwacho and Obanoyama in Kobe.
De Lima stressed that, as ruled by the Supreme Court in the case of Laurel v. Garcia (G.R. No. 92013, 25 July 1990), “[i]t is not for the President to convey valuable real property of the government on his or her own sole will. Any such conveyance must be authorized and approved by a law enacted by the Congress. It requires executive and legislative concurrence.”
In filing the resolution, De Lima said that insisting on selling the Japan properties first before resorting to other properties of the Philippine government speaks “more of the interests of those pushing to buy the said properties more than that of the Filipino people.”
“Hindi ang pagbebenta ng mahahalaga at makasaysayang assets ang kailangang gawin, kundi ang masinop na paggasta, paglalaan ng pondo sa higit na kapaki-pakinabang na programa at proyekto, at ang pagsugpo sa katiwalian, na siyang kinukunsinte ng rehimeng Duterte,” said De Lima.
“We have seen during this time of pandemic that funds can be raised in many other ways in order to protect our economy and our people against the ravages of COVID-19 without disposing of properties that have both symbolic and material significance for our country,” she stated. (30)