by Joyce Pangco Pañares
[ manilastandardtoday.com ] January 8-9, 2011
THE Aquino administration has started talks to sell Camps Aguinaldo and Crame, headquarters of the Armed Forces and the National Police, and three prisons, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said Friday.
“The government has a lot of assets,” Purisima said.
“We have a comprehensive plan that includes both the Public-Private Partnership [Program] and continuing the redeployment of assets of the government that are idle or are not properly utilized.”
Those assets include the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City, the Iwahig Penal Colony in Palawan, the Davao Penal Colony in Davao del Norte, and a 40-hectare property of the Health Department in Cebu.
“There are so many properties,” Purisima said.
“What we need is to get together with all the departments and make an inventory of these and see how we can redeploy these properties so that they are put to their best use.”
Purisima said he had already started talking with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo about the privatization of Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame.
“Do we need these camps in the city?” he said.
“I’ve had discussions and they are all very supportive of the fact that Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame should probably not be there, and should probably be re-developed in order to build a better and bigger site of a consolidated military facility.”
Gazmin said portions of the 178-hectare Camp Aguinaldo will be privatized and turned into a mixed-use zone.
“Based on our proposal, the general headquarters of the [Armed Forces] will still be there,” Gazmin told the Manila Standard.
“The major service commands of the Army, Navy, and Air Force will be housed in one building only.”
A technical working group tasked to study the privatization process will meet after two weeks to come up with a proposal.
”Our problem is, we do not have funds for our modernization, so we have to privatize,” Gazmin said.
Robredo said there were no concrete proposals for privatizing Camp Crame, but that from a security standpoint, it made sense to move the police headquarters.
Around 26 hectares of Camp Aguinaldo are under a usufruct donation from Ortigas and Co., which had renewed its proposal to allow the sale of Camp Aguinaldo, a portion of Camp Crame.
Gazmin said other lesser known military camps might also be leased out.
The Bases Conversion and Development Authority has already identified the five-hectare Camp Rigoberto Atienza in Libis, Quezon City, the 1.2-hectare Philippine Navy headquarters in Fort Abad, and the one-hectare Camp Claudio in Parañaque as next in line for privatization and re-development.
Finance Undersecretary John Philip Sevilla, who heads the department’s privatization efforts, said the privatization of Camps Crame and Aguinaldo had always been part of government plans, although that had not been pursued before.
“This is not the first time that I have heard of such plans, but these are still concepts at this point,” he said.
“There is nothing concrete yet. Privatizing Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo makes sense because of the commercial value of both properties.”
Both camps are on Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, Metro Manila’s main artery.
“It’s something that we’re looking at, but [the privatization of both camps] is not urgent,” Sevilla said.
“There are a lot of things to consider here, like where the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army would be relocated once both camps are privatized.”
“If there’s a war, you don’t want your military and police forces located in Cubao, where they are vulnerable.” With Elaine R. Alanguilan