MANILA -- A ranking official of the Department of Finance (DOF) said the agency has nothing to do with the ownership issue of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) over a portion of land in Manila, which is currently occupied by a port operator.

This, amid plans by the GSIS management to sell a 78-hectare property at the Manila North Harbor, including a 67-hectare lot currently occupied by port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI).

“I think it’s a matter for DOTr (Department of Transportation), not us,” DOF Undersecretary Antonette Tionko told journalists on the sidelines of the joint meeting of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) in Taguig City Friday.

The DOF is being dragged into the issue since GSIS is a government-owned and -controlled corporation (GOCC) but the issue has more to do with DOTr since ICTSI's use of the port area property is made possible by virtue of an agreement with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), she explained.

GSIS president and general manager Jesus Aranas, in a briefing last Tuesday, said they have sent several letters to the PPA regarding the former’s ownership of the land and to collect fees for ICTSI’s use of the land.

He, however, said they have not yet to receive a reply from PPA. In view of this, the GSIS wants to go ahead with the property's sale, which has become a more lucrative proposition after the DOF released an updated zonal valuation. Aranas said they plan to bid out the property this year.

However, a report by a major daily said ICTSI claims that what the GSIS has is “at most, only a naked title” on the property.

Citing a statement issued by the port operator, the report said ICTSI explained that what the GSIS believes is a title for the land is only for land reclamation granted to the state pension fund by the late president Ferdinand Marcos through a 1975 decree.

“Three months after Presidential Decree 802, the Philippine Ports Authority charter was issued where all port facilities, land, buildings, movable and immovable properties, intangible assets, powers, rights, foreshore lease and other privileges were transferred to the PPA,” ICTSI said.

Tionko said the ownership issue needs to be resolved by the two government agencies.

She said ICTSI does not need to pay GSIS because the latter was not the one that gave concession to the port operator. “It’ a concession to operate. It’s a concession, not rent,” she added. (PNA)