PH gov’t eyes transfer of Philippines Post office buildingBy By Erika Sauler
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The administrative offices of the Philippine Postal Corp. will soon transfer to Quezon City to reduce operational costs while it awaits Malacañang’s plan for the 86-year-old Central Post Office building in Manila.
Postmaster General Josefina dela Cruz said the national government has not laid out a clear plan yet for the building but the Mega Manila and Central administrative offices will push through with the transfer within the second quarter of the year.
“Since we will move out, and it’s provided for by our joint venture partner with no expense to us, we might as well do it before the rainy season comes to avoid a repeat of damaged mails and parcels,” Dela Cruz said. “We will still keep (the building) until Malacañang tells us to leave.”
In the meantime, the mail-sorting operation of the Manila Central Post Office will remain in the expansive neoclassical building constructed in 1926 and restored in 1946 after the war.
“Much as we’d hate to leave this beautiful building that we are so proud of, we feel it should go to another department or company who has the money to preserve it at its best, unlike us who have to earn every cent for the overhead cost,” Dela Cruz said.
She said electricity and water bills at the Central Post Office amount to P4 million a month, which could be used instead to pay for PHLPost’s share of the premiums for Government Service Insurance System coverage for postal workers.
Converting the Central Post Office into a high-end residential, office or commercial structure as part of a public-private partnership plan to redevelop the area is one of the options being explored. The group behind Fullerton Hotel in Singapore, which used to be a postal office, too, reportedly expressed interest in the PHLPost building last year.
“This is a heritage building, it cannot be sold. It can go for joint venture and lease. But it’s not up to us, it will be decided by a committee that will be created by Malacañang, which will involve this entire quadrant, including Intramuros and Metropolitan Theater,” Dela Cruz said.
The redevelopment project is also expected to have a spillover effect on Binondo and Escolta, she added.
“As far as this is concerned, the Department of Finance is on top of it. We are waiting because we are just a member of the committee. Meanwhile, we found a way to solve our dilemma because we can’t always run to them like children every time we have a problem,” Dela Cruz said.
Empire East Land Holdings Inc. will provide Philpost with a temporary building while it develops the latter’s 1.4-hectare property in Quezon City. As part of the joint venture, Empire East will build a 5,000-sq.m office building for PHLPost and will also build a building for its own use.
“Given that arrangement, we solved our problem on where to transfer and we earned some money because (Empire East) will give us guaranteed income in an eight-year spread. This year, they will give us P31 million which we can also use to move out,” Dela Cruz said.