THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE has deferred the auction for the 50-year lease of the government?s Fujimi property in Tokyo as a group of ambassadors asked the Supreme Court to stop the proceeding.
But Finance Undersecretary Estela V. Sales told reporters that the postponement had nothing to do with the petition for a temporary restraining order.
The deadline for the submission of bids was scheduled for today, with three Japanese companies expected to take part.
Sales, who chairs the DOF privatization office?s BAC (bids and awards committee)-Japan, said there were some ?technical matters? in the bid procedure that the committee wanted to address.
She did not elaborate, but said the processing of the bidding was continuing as long as there was no TRO issued.
Former ambassador Jose P. Laurel IV, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and the Philippine Ambassadors Foundation Inc. have asked the high court to stop the bidding because of a reported plan to demolish a historical landmark on the property.
The Fujimi property is among various Philippine assets in Japan that were acquired after the Second World War as part of reparations.
Fujimi is located in the commercial and residential district of Chiyoda, which includes the Imperial Palace and other institutions of the Japanese national government like the legislature, the Supreme Court and the Prime Minister?s residence.
The petitioners said the Philippine Ambassador?s residence, believed to have been built in the 17th century, would be torn down reportedly to give way to a 21-story mixed-use structure.
?We are not preempting an approval of the TRO petition,? Sales said. ?But unless we are constrained, the BAC will continue with its mandate.?
She said the committee has not been furnished a copy of the petition, but that the BAC believed the auction was legal and within its mandate.
Asked whether the auction could still push through this year, Sales said the BAC would try its best for this to happen.
In November, the DOF said three Japanese companies were shortlisted to vie for the lease of the Fujimi property, from which the government expects to earn at least P3 billion.
Fujimi is one of three big-ticket items in this year?s privatization program on which the government is relying to mitigate the swelling of the budget deficit, which reached P266.1 billion as of end-October. The government?s target is to keep the full-year deficit at P250 billion.
The other two are the sale of a 103-hectare parcel of land in the Food Terminal Inc. complex in Taguig City and a 40-percent stake in the PNOC Exploration Co.