Alex Magno | The Philippine Star | June 25, 2015

BCDA president Arnel Casanova, in the bizarre war he decided to wage against the Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo), descended from being simply petty to utterly delinquent.

Earlier this month, CJHDevCO found it necessary to seek the assistance of the Baguio City government in checking out illegal electrical jumpers installed at the old Voice of America (VOA) compound used by BCDA officials. At BCDA expense, 20 guards were posted around the small compound to prevent inspection of the illegal electrical jumpers.

In the letter, CJHDevCo executive vice president Alfredo Yniguez III complained to Baguio mayor Mauricio Domogan that the city’s chief of police appears to be in cahoots with the security guards preventing inspection of the jumpers.

The illegal jumpers were attached specifically at the cottage used by Casanova. They were reinstalled shortly after they were removed.

This is clearly a case where public money is used to abet theft of electricity. A public agency is indecently involved in the criminal act.

Before this incident, CJHDevCO wrote the BCDA in an attempt to collect delinquent power bills. The BCDA did not pay their arrears. Their power supply was cut off earlier this month.

The delinquency is not major. CJHDevCo was collecting a total of P213,008 from the government agency. This represents power consumed by the five cottages at the VOA compound used by officials of the BCDA. Of this total amount, P165,893 was power consumed by Unit No. 5, the cottage used exclusively by BCDA president Arnel Casanova.

BCDA officials, since Casanova took over, appear to want the unlimited use of public facilities but hate paying the normal bills everybody else pays. The amount may be relatively small, but it gives us invaluable insight into the character of the presidential appointees who overrun the BCDA.

The electricity bill might seem almost trivial considering the large amounts won and lost in the long battle the BCDA, under Casanova, chose to wage to push out the private developer who entered into a contract with government in good faith.

After a messy legal battle and prolonged arbitration, the struggle between the BCDA and the CJHDevCo ended with everybody losing.

The arbitration panel decided that the contract between government and CJHDevCo might as well be abrogated. Camp John Hay will be returned to the BCDA since government has failed to meet its end of the contractual arrangement. Before this could happen, however, BCDA should compensate CJHDevCo the amount of P1.4 billion representing rental payments paid in good faith even as BCDA failed to create the facilities to encourage investment into the zone.

The Baguio government is the biggest loser of them all. It not only lost the share from the contract it should have had. Baguio also incurs opportunity costs from the failure to promptly develop the great tourism potentials of this zone.

Casanova just messed up this particular project. His maneuvering against CJHDevCo produced this uneconomic stalemate. Those who leased property from CJHDevCo are now in limbo. Casanova now wants these lessees, who entered into contracts in good faith, to pay both the private developer (which the have done) and now pay BCDA or else be ejected.

Having produced this chaos, Casanova chose not to pay his electricity bills and steal electricity under heavy guard.