MANILA — Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) President and General Manager Jesus Aranas is confident the agency will be able to bid out its 78-hectare property at the Manila North Harbor within the year.

The property is composed of a 67-hectare commercial lot, currently occupied by the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI), and a 10-hectare residential lot, which is currently occupied by informal settlers.

In a briefing Tuesday, Aranas said they decided to pursue the plan to sell the property after the Department of Finance (DOF) came out with an updated zonal valuation on the property.

Data from the pension fund shows that the commercial property has a zonal value of PHP25.56 billion based on the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) valuation in 2018 while the residential lot has a value of around PHP412.82 million.

Under the latest zonal valuation, the commercial property is now valued at PHP33.63 billion while the residential lot is PHP3.82 billion or a difference of PHP11.48 billion from last year’s amount.

Aranas said the property is now considered a non-performing asset for GSIS, thus, it must be sold.

“The reason why I pulled out initially our intention to sell it was because the valuation at that time was not current. Thankfully, the DOF came out with the current valuation. They came out with a new zonal valuation as of May 2019 and we intend to pursue from that angle,” he said.

The GSIS chief also explained that they have sent several letters to the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) regarding the pension fund’s ownership of the property after PPA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with several entities for the allocation of a portion of the GSIS’ property for a settlement site for informal settlers along Isla Putting Bato.

The MOU was signed by the PPA, the National Housing Authority (NHA), the City of Manila, ICTSI and the Manila North Harbor Port Inc.

Aranas pointed out that the pension fund is not receiving any rentals for the commercial property, which has been occupied by ICTSI since the 70s through an agreement with PPA.

He explained that GSIS already sent seven letters to PPA since 2017 demanding payment of at least PHP80 million a month on the property but has not received any response.

“The title is in our name so it’s kinda awkward thinking you have a property in your name occupied by an entity (that is) not paying rentals to us. It’s quite difficult for me to reconcile that with the work of honesty and integrity,” he said.

Aranas said he will request for another approval from the GSIS Board, during its meeting this month, to sell the property since it is the GSIS members who will benefit from the proceeds.

“They're (members of the Board) very supportive. They're very transparent. They really want to do their best to improve the financial situation in the GSIS. I don't see any opposition in selling this property. In fact, they already allowed this to be sold,” he added. (PNA)