Cost-cutting PHLPost leaving iconic Manila buildingBy Erika Sauler
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The administrative office of the Philippine Postal Corp. (PHLPost) will soon move to Quezon City and leave its 86-year-old home in Manila, a neoclassical building that has become one of the most enduring landmarks of the metropolis, to reduce operational cost.
Postmaster General Josefina de la Cruz said her office was still awaiting Malacañang’s plan for the building, but the transfer of PHLPost’s Mega Manila and central administrative offices will push through within the second quarter of the year.
“Much as we 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,” De la Cruz said in an interview earlier this week.
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 the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) contributions of the employees.
Converting the post office into a luxury building as part of a public-private partnership scheme 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, reportedly expressed interest in the PHLPost building last year.
In the meantime, the mail-sorting operation of the Manila Central Post Office— which services the host city—will remain in the building, which was built in 1926 and restored in 1946 after World War II.
“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,” De la Cruz said.
The redevelopment project is also expected to have a spillover effect in 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 in 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,” De la Cruz said.
Empire East Land Holdings Inc. will provide PHLPost 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 construct a 5,000-square meter office building for PHLPost and will also build another 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,” De la Cruz said.
“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 to avoid a repeat of damaged mails and parcels,” De la Cruz said.