Drilon vows to oppose plan to dispose of gov’t properties in Japan

Published October 2, 2020, 7:16 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon on Friday, Oct. 2, vowed to oppose the plan to dispose the Philippine government’s properties in Japan, saying he will fight “tooth and nail” to preserve these state assets that are symbolic of Filipinos’ bravery and sacrifices.

Senator Franklin Drilon (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Drilon echoed Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.’s position on the issue citing its symbolic value to all Filipinos. 

“I agree with and support Sec Locsin’s position on this issue. We oppose any plan to sell any of our properties in Japan. You can never put a price tag on these properties,” Drilon said in a statement.

Locsin earlier on Twitter, bared details of an alleged “plot” to sell four of the government’s properties in Japan and use the proceeds as a “retirement fund of last resort” for government officials “who’ve run through the budgets of their own agencies.”

The DFA chief likened the plot to a “second Pearl Harbor perpetrated by Filipinos on our own patrimony.”

Drilon agreed with Locsin, quoting Vice President Savador Laurel who said that the “Roppongi property is not just like any piece of property. The Tokyo properties are a monument to the bravery and sacrifice of the Filipino people in the face of an invader; like the monuments of Rizal, Quezon, and other Filipino heroes, we do not expect economic or financial benefits from them,’”

The minority chief also pointed out that Supreme Court itself said in its ruling in 1990 “that the Roppongi property is valuable, not so much because of the inflated prices fetched by real property in Tokyo, but more so because of its symbolic value to all Filipinos, veterans and civilians alike.”

“The Roppongi property, along with three other Philippines properties in Japan, are ‘symbols of Filipinos’ bravery and sacrifices’,” he stressed, explaining that the Roppongi property was acquired by the government pursuant to the reparations agreement between the Philippine and Japanese governments in 1956. 

Under such agreement, Drilon said the government acquired the said property for a specific purpose, namely, to serve as the site of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.

“I will oppose the passage of that law in the Senate,” he said, insisting that the government should instead sell Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo if it aims to generate funds, not the Roponggi properties that had so much historical value to Filipinos.

Aside from the Roppongi property, the Philippines has three more properties in Japan. This includes the Nampeidai Property in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, the Kobe Commercial Property in Naniwa-cho, Kobe, and the Kobe Residential Property in Obanoyama-cho, Shinohara, Nada-ku, Kobe.

Pursuant to the SC ruling, the former justice secretary said the President cannot convey valuable real property of the government on his own sole will as such conveyance must be authorized and approved by a law enacted by Congress.

However, considering the properties’ importance and value, he said the laws on conversion and disposition of property of public dominion must be faithfully followed in accordance with the high court rulings.

Since it is part of public domain, the Senate minority leader said the Roppongi property and all other properties in Japan can’t be sold unless there is a law that transforms these government properties into private property.