Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. strongly rejected any attempt to sell Philippine real estate properties in Japan.
‘’I will not sell the blood of our people. That is reparations,’’ Locsin testified in a public hearing before the Senate foreign relations chaired by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III.
The Senate panel deliberated on proposals to terminate all efforts to sell Philippine properties in Japan.
Locsin recalled that the first disgrace that almost hit the Cory government when it took power was a plan to sell the Philippine properties in Japan.
‘’Let them try,’’ Locsin of reports that he has the influence to have these properties sold. ‘’That’s not going to happen,’’ he added.
The DFA chief expressed his thanks to the Pimentel committee for holding an open public hearing on the issue.
‘’The idea was shut down (by Locsin),’’ Pimentel said after Locsin’s brief but passionate statement on the issue.
In 1987, President Corazon Aquino, successor to Ferdinand Marcos, signed an executive order to sell the properties to reduce external debt.
The plan fell apart after the Philippine Supreme Court ruled it illegal, citing that it had not been approved by lawmakers.
Present day lawmakers vowed to block any bill submitted to Congress calling for sale of the real estate.
The properties, handed over to the Philippines by Japan as World War II reparations under a 1956 agreement, are located in Tokyo and Kobe.
One of them is in a quiet residential area in Tokyo’s upscale Roppongi area. The land has been leased out for 50 years. Most recently, developer Mitsui Fudosan built a condominium on it, which was up for sale in 1998. The Philippine Embassy occupies the first floor of the building rent-free. The land will be returned to the Philippines in 2047 when the lease is due to expire.
The Philippines another plot of land in neighboring Shibuya, on which stands a low-rise building that had been the country’s embassy until 1997 and which is now used to hold events sponsored by the Filipino community.
The two other properties are in Kobe. The Philippine consulate general had stood on one of them but was closed following its collapse in the earthquake of 1995. A hotel has been built on the lot leased for a fixed term. A nursing home for the aged stands on the other plot.