Press Release
January 11, 2011

Rethink sale of Crame, Aguinaldo

Sen. Ralph G. Recto yesterday urged the government to re-evaluate its plan to sell the real properties where the military and the police headquarters are situated in Quezon City and instead study options involving the long-term lease of such public assets.

"The brash notice of sale of Camps Aguinaldo and Crame borders on the reckless. While I admire the Aquino administration's efforts to raise funds at a time our coffers need it most, the government just cannot display its prime assets 'on sale' without studying other options," Recto said.

"And besides, it is not clear why we are selling these 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 sector to go window-shopping of government assets."

He said that even the question of how much the government intends to raise in the sale of these properties remains, up to now, unanswered.

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

"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?" Recto said.

"By opting for a long-term lease agreement, the government can impose limitations on the use of these properties. The Aquino administration should seriously study its options before injudiciously putting its assets on display."

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.

The two government properties, which sit across each other along EDSA in Quezon City, are among those being eyed for privatization by the Aquino administration.

Earlier, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said 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.

"The first question really is do we really need to sell them? The national government cannot just dispose of its properties without a purpose. In the case of Camps Crame and Aguinaldo, none is being offered," Recto said.

"And until an explanation is put forward, the sale of these camps appears to be ill-conceived. The government cannot embark on a selling spree of its prime assets without conducting a comprehensive study of all of its options."

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

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