Marlon Ramos | Inquirer.net | May 30, 2017
A Baguio City judge has dropped the criminal cases against businessman Robert John Sobrepeña and other top executives of Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevCo).
Presiding Judge Cecilia Corazon Dulay-Archog of the Baguio Regional Trial Court Branch 6 also ordered the return of the cash and travel bonds, amounting to P6.64 million, posted by Sobrepeña and his coaccused in two separate cases of malversation of public funds.
The cases were part of the legal tussle between the Sobrepeña-owned CJHDevCo and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) over the control of the Camp John Hay facility.
Aside from Sobrepeña, the court also cleared CJHDevCo president Ferdinand Santos, executive vice president and chief operating officer Alfredo Yñiguez and chief finance officer Emily Roces-Falco.
Archog handed down the ruling after the Supreme Court (SC) upheld the conclusion of the Court of Appeals that the money CJHDevCo collected as rental for units in Camp John Hay Manor cannot be considered public funds.
"The sums involved are derived from rentals due to the [BCDA] under a leaseback agreement entered by both parties. The sums of money in this case are not public funds since this is a commercial transaction," the SC ruling said.
"The amounts owed to the BCDA are merely corporate debts," it added.
Archog said she received an entry of judgment from the high court on May 4 notifying her that the Aug. 12, 2016, decision of the Court of Appeals dismissing the cases became "final and executory" on Dec. 21, 2016.
She said the SC also informed her that its Second Division had already upheld the appeals court's ruling on Nov. 9, 2016.
"In view of the finality of the said resolution … these instant cases are hereby dismissed," Archog said in her order dated May 15.