GSIS bent on selling Manila North Harbor property

BUSINESS
July 1, 2019

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The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has reiterated its plan to sell its 672,645-square meter property at the Manila North Harbor, which the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) is currently occupying.
    
“As a government entity that exists to ensure the integrity of the funds of its members, GSIS is determined to sell it through public bidding upon the approval of the Board,” GSIS President and General Manager (PGM) Jesus Clint Aranas said.
    
According to him, the market value of the property is approximately Php33.632 billion based on the zonal valuation as of 9 May 2019 and as reflected in the GSIS books as of 20 May 2019.
    
Enrique Razon, president and chairman of ICTSI, reportedly said earlier that GSIS has only a “naked title” with no right to use the property.
    
“That does not preclude GSIS from disposing of the property,” Aranas asserted.
    
Meanwhile, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has committed to donate a five-hectare resettlement site under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Housing Authority (NHA), LGU Manila, ICTSI, and Manila North Harbor Port, Inc. However, the ocular inspection report of NHA reveals that the proposed relocation site infringes on another GSIS property occupied by informal settlers and allocated for socialized housing pursuant to E.O. 108, series of 2002 with an area of 1.2 hectares of which belongs to GSIS.
    
For its part, GSIS emphasized that “no entity can commit, offer, or convey any property which it does not own.”
    
GSIS was never consulted and neither did it approve or consent to such donation or commitment on the overlapping portion which is registered and owned by GSIS.
    
GSIS likewise demanded that the MOU be rescinded, modified, or revised to exclude the overlapping portion of GSIS-owned property from the five hectares that is committed by PPA under the MOU.
    
The PPA (under its present General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago) and through its Legal Department, in a reply to GSIS’s demand to PPA to rescind, modify, or revise the MOU last 4 March 2019, did not directly address GSIS’s demand but instead questioned the validity of the 43-year-old title and asserted that PPA owns the North Harbor Property, despite the property being registered under the name of GSIS.
    
PGM Aranas cited, however, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, which ruled in 2015 that the validity of the title registered under the name of GSIS may only be questioned in a direct attack filed before a regular court.
    
Meanwhile, GSIS has invited ICTSI to discuss the use and rental of the disputed property.  But ICTSI referred GSIS’s letter to PPA and deemed that “it may not be useful to sit down with GSIS without the participation of PPA.”
    
As to the issue of the overlapping GSIS property under the MOU, despite efforts to obtain a certified true copy of the proposed MOU and the 26 February 2019 Minutes of the Congressional Hearing and signing ceremony of the MOU, GSIS has not received such copy to this day.
    
PPA has also begged off from attending a meeting called by the Inter-Agency Committee for the Disposition of the Parola Estate and instead requested the Committee that a separate meeting be scheduled with PPA, NHA, LGU Manila, and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) only to discuss the MOU, without any mention of GSIS. 
    
The GSIS was also informed by the Inter-Agency Committee that it will now be excluded from subsequent committee meetings since the Inter-Agency Committee no longer has jurisdiction over the disposition of lands owned by GSIS and other Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) citing Section 5 II (d) of R.A. 11201 (Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development Act). 
    
Notwithstanding, PGM Aranas maintains that the state pension fund will take appropriate legal measures to protect the interest of GSIS and its members.

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