Palace says congressional approval needed if to sell properties in Japan
Malacanang clarified on Tuesday that selling government properties in Japan was just a proposal and should it push through, Congress has to give its nod.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte, in his televised message on Monday night, said that he would sell real estate properties in Japan to subsidize Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
"It is just a suggestion if we still need the fund for the COVID response," said Roque.
But with the assistance that the government has been receiving from the private groups, he expressed hope that the government would not need to sell its assets.
Roque said there are at least two real estate properties in Japan which the government could sell.
The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said that the Philippine properties given by the Japanese government under Reparation Agreement include the Roponggi and Nampeidai properties in Tokyo and the Noniwacho and Obanoyama in Kobe.
Roque said in the case of Laurel vs. Garcia, the Supreme Court declared that those properties constitute part of the national patrimony since they were war reparations.
But he said if there is a need to sell those properties, "it's not only the President who should give consent, but the Congress as well."
The DFA has explained that Congress has to pass a law that will declare the properties as not public dominion anymore.
Under the Constitution, properties of public dominion are outside the commerce of man, which means that they could not be sold without a law authorizing conveyance, subject to other legal restrictions as well as concurrence of executive and legislative branches of government, the DFA said.
Roque could not give the estimated amount of the Philippine properties in Japan. Celerina Monte/DMS