^

Headlines

It’s Fidel V. Ramos' turn to be invited to House inquiry

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star
Itâs Fidel V. Ramos' turn to be invited to House inquiry

Following former president Benigno Aquino III over the dengue vaccine mess, Fidel Ramos, or FVR, could be the second top leader of the country to appear in an inquiry of the House of Representatives. File

MANILA, Philippines — Another senior statesman is slated to appear before a congressional inquiry.

Following former president Benigno Aquino III over the dengue vaccine mess, Fidel Ramos, or FVR, could be the second top leader of the country to appear in an inquiry of the House of Representatives.

The committee on good government and public accountability decided yesterday to invite Ramos to an investigation into the lease during his watch of a P7.5-billion five-hectare government property along Roxas Boulevard in Manila for just P1,000 a year.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has described the lease as “worse than Tadeco,” referring to a similar arrangement involving thousands of hectares of public land in Davao del Norte, which the Floirendo-owned Tagum Agricultural Development Corp. (Tadeco) has converted into a highly profitable banana plantation operating since the Marcos regime.

The good government committee chaired by Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel is the same panel where Aquino gave his testimony on the Dengvaxia controversy.

The panel’s decision to invite Ramos was prompted by a motion presented by Pimentel’s Surigao del Sur colleague Prospero Pichay Jr., who was a member of the former president’s Lakas party.

Pichay said Ramos should shed light on why he issued an executive order on export promotion, which Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) officials claimed authorized their agency to lease its five-hectare Roxas Boulevard property for a measly sum.

“Let us hear his rationale for that executive order and the lease of the DTI lot,” he said.

Pichay claimed the inquiry was scaring away investors.

A resolution filed by Reps. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar and Salvador Belajo Jr. of party-list group Ang Edukasyon prompted the investigation.

Responding to Pichay, Evardone said it was not their intention to scare away investors.

“Far from it. We want to attract investors to our country. We want to support them, but at the same time, we want to protect the interest of the public. We believe that in this lease agreement, the government is at the losing end because it is the private investors who are making money,” he said.

Evardone said for a property valued at P150,000 per square meter or P7.5 billion for the entire five hectares, the government is receiving rent payments of only P1,000 a year.

He added the lease is good for 50 years starting in 1996 and renewable for an additional 25 years at the option of the renter, the Philippine Export Foundation (Philexport).

“If that contract is not disadvantageous to the government, I don’t know what is,” he stressed.

Evardone pointed out that Philexport was supposed to develop the property and proceeds from its use were to be spent for the development of export markets and promotion of the country’s exports.

“I doubt if they have accomplished or if they are achieving those objectives,” he said.

Evardone said Philexport sublet the lot to Manila Exposition Center Inc. (MECI), which built the World Trade Center and other structures that the latter in turn is leasing to private companies.

“It is Philexport and MECI that are making money,” he said.

FIDEL V. RAMOS

Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with