Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday said his department is against 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 campaign 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 portion of his tweet.
In the same tweet, the foreign affairs secretary said they have already re-aligned their budget of around P1 billion originally for the retrofitting of the DFA building to help in the government’s anti-COVID-19 campaign.
Rumors have circulated that several Japanese groups are reportedly lobbying for the acquisition of the Roppongi property in Tokyo, a historic and prime property located in one of the most chic districts of the Japanese capital.
A source told the Manila Bulletin that one of the proponents reportedly approached the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo last year to discuss their proposed acquisition of the Roppongi property, one of the four properties acquired by the Philippine government under the war reparation agreement with Japan on May 9, 1956.
The 3,179 square-meter Roppongi property has made the headlines in the late 1980s 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 ruled in favor of Laurel’s petition stopping the sale of the property, noting that the laws on conversion and disposition of property of public dominion must be faithfully followed.
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.