Emil Jurado | Manila Standard Today | May 13, 2015
My wife and I were in Baguio City over the weekend, and people were still talking about the future of tourism in the North as a result of the efforts of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) to bully and evict all the investors who bought homes, built shops and restaurants, golf shareholders, unit owners at Manor Hotel and Forest Lodge and all sub-lessees.
In fact, I read the notice of eviction posted on all the doors of investors, quoting the decision of Arbitration Tribunal on the dispute for 18 years between BCDA and the developer Camp John Hay Development Corp., and for the decision of the Baguio Regional Trial affirming the Aribration Tribunals’ ruling verbatim.
But I was surprised at the RTC ruling on Page 4, Paragraph 3, which clearly states that “as for the lift of sub-lesses and/or vested right holders, they will be governed by the law on obligations and contracts.”
The law on obligations and contracts as provided for by the Philippine Civil Code, Article 1385, clearly states that “an order for mutual restitution cannot include properties currently in the possession of third persons who act in good faith.”
What is strange and suspicious about this notice of eviction is that the RTC Sheriff’s Office was the one that issued it, which can only mean that it was with the permission of the RTC judge. My question is: Why did the RTC judge allow the sheriff’s office to issue the eviction notices when the judge herself issued the ruling that insofar as sub-lesses and/or vested right holders are governed by the law on obligations and contracts, this in effect would take the side of the BCDA which would like all sub-lesses and vested rights holders giving them only up to May 20 before evictions and padlocking of their properties. Santa Banana, something smells!
To make matters worse, while the Baguio RTC heard the side of some Camp John Hay investors last week and the answer of the BCDA last Monday, the judge suddenly went on leave for a week without resolving the case. To think that the deadline of the eviction of all sub-lesses just a week away!
With a looming deadline, some investors and sub-lessees have bonded together and filed a petition for certiorari with injuction to prevent their eviction on May 20 to protect their investment, and uphold their rights as possessors in good faith.
There’s an open letter to President Aquino from concerned homeowners and investors in Camp John Hay, appealing for the observation of the law on obligation and contracts. As possessors who acted in good faith, and were not parties in the dispute before the Arbitration Tribunal. As a lawyer myself, I see no reason why the Appellate Court should not issue a temporary restraining order on the May 20 deadline for the eviction of the 1,631 investors. There has been jurisprudence to this effect.
Santa Banana, what makes matters worse is that the BCDA president Arnel Paciano Casanova has been coercing all sub-lessees to sign a Deed of Assignment (the sole purpose of which is to drag them into litigation with CJHDevco) as a precondition to their continued peaceful occupation of their fully-paid homes in the Camp. And these full payments, by order of arbitral decision, were used by the BCDA to pay its own obligation to CJHDevco.
Homeowners are both Filipino and foreign retirees who are direct descendents of soldiers who fought alongside their Filipino brothers in World War II. Others are retired OFWs. Many in fact are full-time retirees who simply want to spend their twilight years in the summer capital.
It’s an appeal not only for justice and fairness, but for the recognition of the sacredness of contracts.