Fire insurance should cover rehab of Manila Central Post Office — Escudero

The rehabilitation of the gutted historical Manila Central Post Office building must have its seed fund proceeds from the fire insurance claim, Senator Francis Escudero said Wednesday.

Escudero made these remarks following the commitment of the Government Service Insurance System to assist the Post Office in its restoration and repair of the nearly 100-year-old neoclassical landmark.

“That should be the financial cornerstone of its reconstruction. Before any appropriated funds are tapped, insurance should be collected first. Bago galawin ang nasa national budget, habulin muna ang insurance,” Escudero said in a statement.

“The law is clear. The GSIS is the state insurance company of the Republic.”

GSIS president and general manager Wick Veloso on Tuesday said the five-story Manila Central Post Office building, razed by a massive fire, is insured with the pension fund for P604 million.

Citing Republic Act 656 or the “Property Insurance Law”, Escudero said  all government agencies, except certain local governments, are required “to insure against any insurable risk their properties, assets, and interests with the General Insurance Fund, as administered by the GSIS.”

He added that even public-private partnership projects that the government has done have insurable interest secured by the GSIS.

In 2018, the Commission on Audit issued Circular 2018-002 exhorting all government agencies to comply with the law, after it found out that there were still government properties not insured with the GIF, or not adequately insured. Escudero recalled that the Philippine Postal Corp. or PhilPost spent P21 million for all types of insurance premiums in 2021.

In the current year, its fire insurance premiums are included in the P25.8-million budget for various taxes, duties and licenses, insurance, fidelity bond premiums and other fees, he added.

Escudero said the filing of insurance claims should be started immediately to finance the rehabilitation of the ill-fated Post Office building.

He then called on all government agencies and instrumentalities to heed the COA memorandum and make sure that their assets and properties are insured with GSIS in compliance with RA 656.

Ang nangyari sa Post Office ay nakakalungkot pero mabilis rin natin itong maitatayong muli. Salamat at tiniyak ng mga kinauukulan na ito ay nakaseguro sa GSIS (What happened at the Post Office is sad but we can also rebuild it quickly. We are thankful that officials were able to assure us that it’s ensured with GSIS). This is a reminder and a lesson for all government agencies and GOCCs (Government-owned and Controlled Corporations),” he said.

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