GSIS board reverses move to sell disputed port area land
The board of trustees of the state-run Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) on Thursday (July 3) revoked its earlier decision to proceed with the sale of the pension fund’s port area property for at least P50 billion.
The board decision came just as a temporary replacement for resigned GSIS chair and general manager Jesus Clint O. Aranas took over in an acting capacity also on Thursday.
The board installed its chair, Rolando L. Macasaet, as officer-in-charge to replace Aranas.
Citing a report from Macasaet, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters through Viber message that the GSIS board, at a meeting, also accepted the resignation of Aranas.
The board also “revoked resolutions authorizing sale of the ICTSI [International Container Terminal Services Inc.]/PPA [Philippine Ports Authority] property until further review and consultation with all concerned stakeholders.”
Tycoon Enrique Razon, owner of ICTSI, opposed the sale claiming the GSIS has “at most, only a naked title” to the disputed 67-hectare land.
Macasaet said Aranas kept telling the board that the planned sale had been approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Inquirer reported that the then seven-person GSIS board of trustees last June 25 issued Board Resolution No. 89, which gabe the go-signal setting the minimum bid price and allowing the cash sale of Port Area Property 1.
The same resolution also granted the GSIS president and general manager, at that tine Aranas, the authority to do so.
Contrary to earlier reports claiming that the GSIS board did not approve the planned sale, Board Resolution 89 was signed by, besides Aranas—who served as the board’s vice chair: chair Rolando Macasaet and trustees Wilfredo Maldia, Jocelyn de Guzman Cabreza, Alan Luga, Nina Ricci Ynares-Chiongbian, Anthony Sasin, Kahar Macasayon and Carlo Antonio Almirante.
“Since 2018, the board has considered the sale of Port Area Property 1 that, except for income from valuation gains, does not contribute to GSIS’s operation and is being claimed by the Philippine Ports Authority despite the fact that the title is in the name of GSIS,” the now revoked Board Resolution 89 read.
While the office of the GSIS’ vice president for real estate asset disposition and management on June 10 proposed a minimum bid price of nearly P37 billion for the property, the board had approved and confirmed a proposal to sell on an “as-is-where-is basis” Port Area Property 1 at a minimum bid price of P50 billion.
The board had also authorized Aranas to sign, execute and deliver the deed of absolute sale to the winning bidder and all documents on the planned sale.
With Aranas gone, Macasaet told Dominguez: “As you instructed, I assumed the OIC position.”
“I will officially advise Malacañang through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and you through a formal letter ASAP,” Macasaet added.
Dominguez—the head of the Duterte administration’s economic team—on Wednesday (July 2) said it was “possible” that Macasaet will replace Aranas, who resigned last Tuesday (July 1).
Macasaet had also been rumored to become budget secretary as soon as Duterte appointed then budget chief Benjamin E. Diokno to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
But Macasaet’s name was also floated as the next socioeconomic planning secretary should current Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia quit.
Macasaet, 58, replaced Francisco Duque as GSIS chair when Duque was appointed health secretary.
Macasaet was a member of Ramon Ang-led conglomerate San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) board of directors prior to his stint at GSIS.
At SMC, Macasaet “played a vital role in the development of various infrastructure projects responsible for the construction of major roads in the country,” his profile on the GSIS website said.
Macasaet also served as president of state-run Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC) during the terms of former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo.
He had likewise been the country’s representative to the board of the Beijing-based multilateral lender Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Macasaet graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Business Economics degree from the University of the Philippines.
He later underwent the UP MBA Honors program, and tucked under his belt a Diploma in Management Development at the Harvard Business School. (Editor: Tony Bergonia)
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