By Chino Leyco
State-run Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has revoked its previous decision to sell the controversial Manila port area property, noting its former president and general manager had allegedly “deceived” the pension fund’s board of trustees.
In a text message to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, GSIS Chairman Rolando L. Macasaet said the planned sale of the pension fund’s 78-hectare lot at the Port Area in Manila, which is currently controlled by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), has been shelved.
Macasaet said the decision to cancel the board resolution authorizing the sale of the PPA property was made after the seven-person body discovered that they were “deceived” by resigned GSIS chief Jesus Clint O. Aranas. Macasaet alleged that the deception happened when Aranas claimed that President Duterte already gave the go signal of the plan to sell the property when, in fact, there was no approval.
“In fairness to the Board, Atty. Aranas always assured the Board that this transaction had the approval of PRRD [President Rodrigo R. Duterte],” Macasaet’s text message to Dominguez read.
According to Malacanang sources, the meeting between Aranas and President Duterte devolved into utter chaos after the chief executive found out that the GSIS chief was proceeding with the planned sale of the PPA-controlled port area lot. GSIS is a government financial institution under the Office of the President.
For this reason, Macasaet said the proposed sale of the port area property that includes the 67-hectare lot currently occupied by the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) will be reviewed by the GSIS in consultation with all concerned stakeholders.
The GSIS chair also reported to Dominguez that the board during its meeting Thursday accepted the resignation of Aranas and has appointed him as officer in charge of the pension fund.
Last Tuesday, Aranas submitted to Malacanang his resignation due to “personal reasons,” which was accepted by President Duterte the following day, Wednesday.
In his resignation letter dated July 2, 2019, Aranas said “I resign, secure in the knowledge that I have unwaveringly advanced the interest of GSIS and its members in discharging the function of the said office.”
Aranas also told the President that he has been “always in obeisance of all laws and never been once compromising my integrity or that of the office I now relinquish.”
Last week, Aranas announced that he was bent to sell for P33.6 billion the property being occupied by shipping tycoon Enrique Razon for his port terminal business.
According to Aranas, GSIS is the legal owner of the 67-hectare port area property in Manila contrary to the claim by Razon.
Razon, who is also a known close friend of President Duterte, had said that GSIS has only a “naked title” for the port area lot with no right to use the property.
However, Aranas asserted that their naked title “does not preclude GSIS from disposing of the property.”
“As a government entity that exists to ensure the integrity of the funds of its members, GSIS is determined to sell it through public bidding upon the approval of the Board,” Aranas said last June 26.
Aside from Razon, a source said that the GSIS chief was also caught up in a skirmish with Dominguez over the port area property.
In July last year, Aranas had likewise attempted to evict the Philippine Plaza Holdings, Inc., the operator of Sofitel Manila, alleging the hotel owner in Pasay City was using two GSIS properties and earning from them without paying the pension fund.
President Duterte appointed Aranas to GSIS in November 2017 amid his feud then with Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar Dulay.