The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has rejected any proposal to sell the Philippines’ four real estate properties in Japan, including the million-dollar Roponggi property in Tokyo, which the country acquired as part of World War II reparations.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the DFA has sent a position paper to Congress repudiating the sale, even as he revealed another bid to have the country’s real properties in Japan auctioned, a move he likened to the infamous Pearl Harbor raid, only this time perpetrated by Filipinos.
“There is another plot to dispose of 4 of our Japan properties,” Locsin said in a Twitter post.
“This is a second Pearl Harbor perpetrated by Filipinos on our own patrimony,” he added.
The DFA chief suspected that huge kickbacks may have driven those behind the sale in the guise of invoking the plight
of Filipino war veterans to justify the disposal of the properties.
“Dollar patriotism. Not while I am alive. Kaching, kaching. Disgusting!!!” Locsin said.
The country’s top diplomat noted that “the plight of our poor veterans, so few of them left, have been invoked by every gang of officials who’ve run through the budgets of their own agencies.”
“There are other ways to help Veterans–BCDA [Bases Conversion Development Authority] was sold for them but proceeds were stolen. We already sent our position to Congress opposing it,” he tweeted.
“I will fight this to their end. Shet before I go down in ignominy as the guy who sold our Japan properties,” Locsin vowed.
According to Locsin, efforts to sell the Japan properties “usually happens toward the end of a term. Retirement fund of last resort.”
The Philippine government acquired the four properties in Tokyo and Kobe under the war reparation agreement with Japan on May 9, 1956.
Of the four properties, the Roppongi property in Tokyo is considered one of the most expensive piece of real estate in the Japanese capital.
There were several attempts in the past to auction off the 3,179 square-meter Philippine property on 306 Roppongi St. 5-Chome Minato-ku, Tokyo either by sale or long-term lease.
During the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino, the Roppongi property was offered for sale for $225 million, or nearly P6 billion at the time, with a big chunk of the purchase price reportedly going to payment of taxes to the Japanese government.
However, the late Vice President Salvador Laurel opposed the sale of the property, which he described as “priceless” because it was “a monument to the bravery and sacrifice of the Filipino people in the face of an invader.”
Laurel petitioned the Supreme Court, which subsequently sided with him and issued a permanent injunction on Feb. 20, 1990, after ruling that any sale of the property needs a law passed by Congress.
The Philippine government acquired the Roponggi property on June 27, 1958 through the 1956 Reparations Agreement between the Philippines and Japan.
It was the site of the chancery of the Philippine Embassy until 1976, when the chancery was transferred to the vacated Philippine Reparations building in Nanpeidai, Shibuya-ku.
According to the website of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, the property was totally abandoned in 1997 for difficulty in maintenance, and the building grounds were left to the elements, leading to its condemnation by the government as uninhabitable and unsafe.
The Philippines also owns three other war reparation properties in Japan, namely: the 2,489.96 sq.m. Nampeidai property at 11-24 Nampeidai-machi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; the 764.72 sq.m.-Kobe commercial property at 63 Naniwa-cho, Kobe; and the Kobe residential property at 1-980-2 Obanoyama-cho, Shinohara, Nada-ku, Kobe.