Re-evaluate to sell real property of Camps Aguinaldo and Crame

By Jason de Asis


SENATE OFFICE, Manila, January 12, 2011-Sen. Ralph G. Recto urged the government to re-evaluate its plan to sell the real properties of the two (2) camps in Aguinaldo of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Crame of the Philippine National Police (PNP) located at Quezon City, and instead should seriously study options involving the long-term lease of such public assets.


Recto advised the Aquino Administration to study other options to raise funds at a time our coffers need it most. The government just cannot display its prime assets on sale saying that it is not clear why there is a need to sell the two properties to start with, or where are we going to spend the money gained if these transactions push through.


“A lot of questions should be answered first before we invite the private sectors to go window-shopping of government assets,” Recto said, adding that even the question of how much the government intends to raise the sale of these properties remains unanswered.


To regulate the use of these properties by the private sector, the senator said leasing the two properties on a long-term basis would be much more prudent as it would allow the government.


Recto said that while tapping the private sector in the use of these assets is a novel idea, it would give rise to a number of problems. Will it be used as a commercial area and worsen the already terrible traffic situation in EDSA?


The 178-hectare Camp Aguinaldo houses the headquarters of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), while the 32-hectare Camp Crame is home to the Philippine National Police (PNP) command center. There is a plan to privatize these holdings by the Aquino administration.


Earlier, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said that among those planned to be sold include the 40-hectare property of the Department of Health in Cebu, the New Bilibid Prisons compound in Muntinlupa City, and the penal colonies in Davao and in Iwahig, Palawan.


“Do we really need to sell them?” Recto said. “The national government cannot just dispose of its properties without a purpose. In the case of Camps Crame and Aguinaldo, there is still no plan,” Recto added.


Recto asserted that until an explanation is put forward, the sale of these camps appears to be ill-conceived, and it cannot embark on a selling spree of its prime assets without conducting a comprehensive study of all of its options.


Recto finally warned that the sale of two camps might repeat the same fate of Fort Bonifacio, which was sold purportedly to raise funds for the AFP modernization but which hardly resulted to an upgrade of the military years after its privatization. (Jason de Asis)