Escudero: Rehab of Manila Central Post Office building should come from fire insurance

The rehabilitation of the historic Manila Central Post Office should have its seed fund proceeds from fire insurance claims, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said on Wednesday, May 24.

Escudero noted the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has already confirmed that the Manila Central Post Office building, which was gutted by a massive fire on Monday, is insured with the pension fund for P604-million.

“That should be the financial cornerstone of its reconstruction. Before  any appropriated funds are tapped, insurance should be collected first,” Escudero said in a statement.

“Bago galawin ang nasa national budget, habulin muna ang insurance (Before using what is in the national budget, they should first pursue the insurance),” he said.

“The law is clear. The GSIS is the state insurance company of the Republic,” he pointed out.

Under Republic Act No. 656 or the “Property Insurance Law” all government agencies, except certain local governments, are required to insure against any insurable risk their properties, assets, and interests with the General  Insurance
Fund (GIF), as administered by the GSIS.

Even Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects that the government has insurable interest, should be secured by the GSIS.

Escudero noted that in 2018, the Commission on Audit (COA) issued  Circular 2018-002, prodding all government agencies to comply with the law after discovering that there were still government properties not insured with the GIF, or not adequately

He also recalled that in 2021, the Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost) spent P21-million for all types of insurance premiums.

“Sa kasalukuyang taon, ang fire insurance premiums nito ay nakapaloob sa  P25.8-million budget para sa sari-saring taxes, duties and licenses, insurance, fidelity bond premiums and other fees (In the current year, its fire insurance premiums are included in the P25.8-million budget for various taxes, duties and licenses, insurance, fidelity bond premiums and other fees),” he said.

He also said filing of insurance claims should start as soon as possible in order to finance the rehabilitation of the MCPO building.

Escudero further said all government agencies and instrumentalities should now heed the COA memorandum and make sure that their assets and properties are insured, in compliance with RA 656.

“Ang nangyari sa Post Office ay nakakalungkot pero mabilis rin natin  itong maitatayong muli. Salamat at tiniyak ng mga kinauukulan na ito ay  nakaseguro sa GSIS (What happened at the Post Office is sad but we are also quick it can be rebuilt. We are thankful that officials were able to assure the GSIS is insured),” the lawmaker stressed.

“This is a reminder and a lesson for all government  agencies and GOCCs (Government-owned and Controlled Corporations),” he  said.