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De Lima urges Duterte, Congress to halt efforts to sell Japan properties

/ 08:38 AM October 08, 2020
Philippine Ropponggi property in Japan

The 3,190.21 sq.m. Roppongi Property was acquired by the Philippine government on 27 June 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 Nampeidai, Shibuya-ku. Thereafter, 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. Image from the website of the Philippine embassy in Tokyo

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima has filed a resolution urging President Rodrigo Duterte and Congress to terminate present efforts to sell Philippine real estate properties in Japan.

In filing Senate Resolution No. 535, De Lima stressed that selling these properties would “diminish the historical significance of the same and rid our future generations of yet another reminder of the bravery of our forefathers in defending the country against seemingly insurmountable forces during World War II.”

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“The President and Congress must resist any efforts to sell these properties and preserve the same for our future generations to celebrate and enjoy,” De Lima’s resolution read.

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The Philippine government acquired four properties in Tokyo and Kobe under the war reparation agreement with Japan on May 9, 1956.

These include properties in Ropponggi and Nampeidai in Tokyo and a commercial and residential property in Kobe.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte said he is willing to offer for sale the said properties in Japan, “citing the…need to raise money as a stopgap measure to prevent PhilHealth from going bankrupt,” De Lima noted in her resolution.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has since clarified that the President’s pronouncement was “just a suggestion.”

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. as well as several senators strongly opposed the sale of the country’s properties in Japan.

De Lima cited a Supreme Court ruling which stated that “[i]t is indeed true” that Philippines’ Ropponggi property “is valuable not so much because of the inflated prices fetched by the real property in tokyo but more so because of its symbolic value to all Filipinos—veterans and civilians alike.”

The ruling added that the President and Congress must first concur before the country’s assets in Japan can be sold.

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De Lima, meanwhile, pointed out that insisting on the sale of the Japan properties first before resorting to other properties of the Philippine government “speaks more of the interest of those pushing to buy the said properties more than that of the Filipino people.”

“[W]e have seen during this time of pandemic that funds can be raised in many other ways in order to protect our economy and our people against the ravages of COVID-19 without disposing of properties that have both symbolic and material significance for our country,” the senator added.

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TAGS: Japan properties, Nampeidai, Nation, news, Ropponggi, Senate resolution, Senator Leila de Lima
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