Palace decrees reinforced PPA control over port area, says Razon firm
MANILA, Philippines — Businessman Enrique Razon Jr. is standing his ground against the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) which, earlier this week, announced a plan to sell the land on which the tycoon’s flagship port operation stands – land which the state pension fund said it owns but receives no payment for.
In a statement sent to the Inquirer, the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) said what the state pension fund is holding to claim ownership of the disputed 67-hectare piece of real estate in Manila’s port area is “at most, only a naked title” but without the corresponding right to use the property.
The company explained that what the GSIS believes grants it ownership is a title for land reclamation granted to the fund by President Marcos through a 1975 decree. At that time, over half of the disputed property was underwater and had yet to be reclaimed from Manila Bay.
“Three months after Presidential Decree 802, the Philippine Ports Authority charter was issued where all port facilities, land, buildings, movable and immovable properties, intangible assets, powers, rights, foreshore lease and other privileges were transferred to the PPA,” ICTSI said.
Furthermore, in early 1978, another Marcos decree – PD 1284 – expressly repealed PD 802, which is the source of the GSIS title.
The franchise of the Manila International Port Terminal Inc. (MIPTI), ICTSI’s predecessor, was also amended by decree, giving the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) the responsibility to plan, design, construct, and develop the port complex.
“And the revenue collected at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) was decreed to belong to the PPA, after deducting the fees of MIPTI for management of MICT,” the firm said. “It was the PPA which then funded and completed the reclamation and construction of MICT using a loan from the Asian Development Bank.”
GSIS president and general manager Jesus Clint Aranas had earlier announced plans to sell the sprawling property, describing it as a non-performing asset that would better benefit the pension fund’s 1.5 million members to the tune of P33.6 billion once auctioned off.
GSIS said it had sent both PPA and ICTSI at least seven letters in recent years demanding compensation for the use of the land, all of which had been ignored.
Aranas said the pension fund should be receiving approximately P80 million in monthly rent for the property since the 1970s – a claim that ICTSI has dismissed.
The firm explained that, after the Edsa Revolution in 1986, the franchise of MIPTI to operate the port was canceled. It was consequently auctioned off and was, once more, won by Razon in 1987. The contract was awarded to ICTSI by PPA the following year.
“So GSIS has, at most, only a naked title, but the right to use the subject land belongs to the PPA,” Razon’s firm said. “Whoever buys from the GSIS gets only a naked title but no right to use the land.”
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