President Rodrigo Duterte is backing a proposal to sell four prime real estate assets in Japan to raise funds o meet the government’s mounting bills to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
“That is why we are selling properties. That is the reason why we are selling properties, real estate properties in Japan because we have to raise money,” said Duterte in a briefing.
The Philippines owns four properties in Tokyo and Kobe that were pat of the Japanese government’s war reparations. This includes the prized 3,179 square-meter Roponggi property in Tokyo which has been targeted for disposition by the government as early as the Cory Aquino administration in i 1987.
The other real estate assets are the 2,490-sq.m. Nampeidai property in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; the 764.72 sq.m. commercial property at Naniwa-cho and a residential property at Obanoyama-cho, both in Kobe.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin has publicly opposed the sale of the Japanese assets that have to be approved by both the President and Congress.
Duterte cited the dire financial condition of the corruption-ravaged Philippine Health Insurance Corp. as one of the compelling reasons for the government to raise funds.
“Wala nang pambayad ‘yang sa PhilHealth na ‘yan. Kaya walang ibang remedy diyan. It must be a surgical move,” he said.
“I am going to propose to Congress to abolish (Philhealth)… Kung i-privatize mo naman, susmaryosep, walang pera. Sino insurance mo…? Huwag mo sabihin ng mga kapitalista sa insurance: Kami ang magbayad? Wala kayong pondo,” he added.
Philhealth is in danger of running out of funds by 2022 after getting struck with a double whammy of lower collections and higher payout amid the coronavirus pandemic. Philhealth is expecting a net operating loss of P90 billion in 2020 and P147 billion in 2021.