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Loren warns against midnight fire sales

January 22, 2010

SEN. LOREN LEGARDA YESTERDAY WARNED AGAINST “MIDNIGHT FIRE SALES” BY THE ADMINISTRATION OF GOVERNMENT PROPERTIES AMOUNTING TO BILLIONS OF PESOS.
Loren said that the Arroyo administration should stop efforts to sell prime government assets, such as the Food Terminal Inc., “to avoid suspicions that these transactions could be midnight fire sales at giveaway prices and made to support dubious political purposes.”
Loren issued the warning after Finance Secretary Margarito Teves announced that the government was targeting to sell three “big ticket” items before March 31, less than two months before elections on May 10 are held.
These properties are 103 hectares of prime real estate in Taguig City owned by the FTI, Philippine National Oil Co. Exploration Corporation shares, and the lease of the Fujimi property in Japan. The government had earlier expected to raise P30 billion from the sale of the three properties.
Loren said that the sale of the three properties could be considered a “midnight fire sale because the term of the present administration expires within a few months on June 30. There might be a rush to sell these properties to favor certain parties and possibly raise money for political campaign purposes, resulting in a scam that could cost the people billions of pesos.”
Loren said that the administration is “now winding up its business and should refrain from entering into transactions or appointments that may be considered midnight deals or midnight appointments, and which are therefore either immoral or illegal.”
According to Loren, “the administration should observe delicadeza in all its transactions and dealings in order to offset the perception of the public that its term for the past nine years have been marked by graft-ridden and scandalous transactions, like the P800-million fertilizer scam in 2004.”
During the Senate hearing on the fertilizer scam, it was alleged that the money raised from the anomalous transaction was used to obtain political favors that enabled the administration candidates to win in the 2004 election, which was considered fraudulent. Even highly urbanized cities were given allocations for “fertilizers” even though they had no agricultural areas, while the fertilizer products were reported to be highly overpriced.
Senator Legarda was a candidate for vice president with Fernando Poe Jr. as her running mate for president in the opposition party in the 2004 elections. The election was marred with widespread cheating and overspending reportedly by the administration.