EVEN as it defended the planned auction, Malacañang dismissed as “haka-haka (speculation)” claims of a supposed fire sale of prime government properties before the May elections.

Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III chided a vice presidential bet, who made the accusation, of making up an issue where there is none at all.

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“The supposed fire sale is just speculation. Someone is making up an issue where there is none,” Bello said on government-run dzRB radio.

Earlier, Senator Lorna Regina “Loren” Legarda said government is pushing through with a midnight fire sale of big-ticket properties.

She said these properties include 103 hectares of prime real estate in Taguig City owned by the Food Terminal Inc. (FTI), Philippine National Oil Co. Exploration Corporation shares, and the lease of the Fujimi property in Japan.

Government expects to raise P30 billion from the sale of the three properties.

But Bello pointed out that the efforts to sell the FTI property had been ongoing since the administration of Fidel Ramos.

“They have been trying to sell this property so it will be run better by the private sector,” he said.

“If we have a good opportunity of getting good price for FTI and we can assure our people FTI will be handled more capably and better by the private sector ... I see nothing wrong there,” he added.

Bello also dismissed claims the proceeds of the sale will go to campaign coffers of administration candidates.

The only way the funds can be touched will be through the budget, or the General Appropriations Act.

“The funds cannot go to the campaign coffers. Any proceeds from any sale of government properties will go to the National Treasury,” said Bello. (JMR/Sunnex)