Envoy seeks law to protect PH properties abroad

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 10 2019 03:40 PM | Updated as of Nov 12 2019 10:54 AM

The Philippine Chancery on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington DC. Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News​

WASHINGTON — Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez is pushing for the passage of a law that will create an entity to ensure Philippine properties overseas are properly maintained and managed.

Speaking to visiting Filipino journalists, Romualdez said the proposed law is also envisioned to discourage the selling of government properties abroad. 

Under the proposed Philippine Overseas Properties Management Act, the disposition of the country's overseas properties shall be approved by the President, while Congress will have the authority to approve or disapprove the acquisition or sale of properties.

Philippine Center Management Boards (PCMBs) will be created in various Philippine foreign service posts that will be responsible for the maintenance, management, and disposition of overseas properties of the Department of Foreign Affairs. 

Among the PCMBs’ duties will be to ensure the fitness for occupancy of Philippine center facilities “by undertaking, on a need basis, repair, renovation, improvement, decoration, alteration, furnishing and fitting up of the building property.”

“The properties are not maintained by the Department of Foreign Affairs, it is not their business... Their business is diplomacy and consular work. So I think if we put up a company with a specific purpose to manage and maintain all government properties, I think it will be better off, especially abroad. There’s continuity in managing it,” Romualdez said. 

The historic building along Sheridan Circle that serves as the official residence of the Philippine Ambassador to the United States in Washington DC. Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News​

An Overseas Properties Management Board (OPMB) chaired by the Foreign Affairs secretary will exercise oversight functions over the PCMBs, he added.

“Overseas properties” shall refer to buildings and real estate properties, tools and equipment, furniture and fixtures, transport vehicles, communications equipment, artwork and institutional memorabilia, waste material and disposable paraphernalia.

Romualdez lamented the selling of a property near the Kensington Palace in London where the Philippine Embassy was previously located. 

In Washington, the Philippine government owns the historic building along Sheridan Circle that serves as the official residence of the Philippine Ambassador to the US, the Philippine Chancery, and the Philippine Chancery Annex Building on Massachusetts Avenue.