Emil Jurado | The Standard | May 5, 2015
Many of the 1,631 investors, locators, shareholders and sub-lessees of Camp John Hay, who have been told by the Baguio Regional Trial Court sheriff to vacate the camp by May 20, have formed an alliance, and have decided to fight for their rights under the law. They have brought the case to the Court of Appeals in a petition for certiorari to clarify and set the record straight. They have also asked for a TRO or temporary restraining order to stop the Baguio RTC from evicting possessors of properties in good faith.
Page 4, paragraph 3 of the ruling states that “as to the list of sub-lesses and/or vested right holders, they will be governed by the LAW ON OBLIGATIONS AND CONTRACTS (caps mine).
Every lawyer (I am one) knows that the Philippine Civil Code, Article 1385 provides that “an order for mutual restitution cannot include properties currently in the possession of third persons who acted in good faith.” And my gulay, the 1,631 investors in Camp John Hay who were not parties to the controversy are all third persons who acted in good faith. The law certainly applies to them.
That’s why I’m surprised that the Baguio RTC sheriff now wants all investors of Camp John Hay evicted. The BCDA believes that the lease agreement between the developer and the government is terminated. The arbitration tribunal’s ruling also said that the BCDA must pay P1.42 billion to the developer, after which the developer must vacate.
Santa Banana, why then must the Baguio RTC order the eviction of the 1,631 investors, contrary to its decision about third persons in good faith? Something smells.
The eviction deadline is May 20. It covers even the Manor Hotel and Forest Lodge which also have unit owners as investors. Thus, if both hotels are vacated and abandoned, what then will happen to the investors and unit owners? Reason dictates that unless a TRO is secured by all investors which include the two hotels as locators, their management should continue until a new developer comes in.
The BCDA, which wants all investors to vacate unless they sign a deed of assignment to it so that they can sue CJHDevco for refund of the investments, have been misinforming all the investors and the public that the developer had only 25 years, not 50 years, to lease properties in the Camp.
Former President Fidel Ramos called me up the other day in reaction to my earlier columns defending the rights of investors in possession of properties in good faith under the law. He lamented the way that the BCDA is discouraging investors in economic zones like in Camp John Hay. It was during his incumbency that the 1996 lease agreement between the BCDA and CJHDevco was inked. He also cited the success of Bataan Economic Zone Authority under administrator Lilia de Lima because of least intervention. This is unlike what is happening in Camp John Hay where BCDA president Arnel Paciano Casanova is obssessed with kicking out John Sobrepena as developer.
It does not require too much imagination to see why it is plainly wrong for the BCDA to accept the benefit of using the investments of third parties to pay its debt and in the same vein deny these investors the right to enjoy their investments. That, Santa Banana, would be unjust enrichment!