Coco Alcuaz | ABS CBN News | July 31, 2015
 

MANILA - The Court of Appeals has delayed the Sobrepena group's exit from Camp John Hay, but also ordered the group to hand over its sub-lease contracts to the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), which is taking over the disputed property again.

The CA granted the petition of Sobrepena's CJHDevCo to stay in Camp John Hay until it is paid the P1.4 billion awarded to it by an arbitration panel in February.

It also stopped the eviction of sub-lessors "for the time being."

BCDA, meanwhile, was instructed to assist CJHDevCo in processing its P1.4-billion claim.

The arbitration panel had said both sides had faults, and ordered BCDA to return that amount — consisting of rents CJHDevCo did pay. BCDA had put it in escrow, or a special bank account.

This is the latest development in a more than 10-year battle.

BCDA claimed CJHDevCo, which won the lease to Camp John Hay in 1996, failed to pay all of its rent.

CJHDevCo said it wasn't able to do so because the government didn’t deliver all the land it was supposed to deliver.

It’s just one of two battles between the Sobrepena group and the government.

The other is over MRT-3, which the group also built in the 1990s.

Reached by phone, CJHDevCo expressed satisfaction in its interpretation that residential sub-lessors aren't covered by the arbitration and can, presumably, stay without a separate arbitration or civil case, and that CJHDevCo cannot be made to leave before it is paid.

"The CA decision confirms third party homeowners are buyers in good faith and not a party to the arbitration (and) CJHDevCo has to be paid before they vacate. Otherwise, it's status quo," said CJHDevCo Executive Vice-President Alfredo Yniguez.

BCDA President Arnel Casanova didn't immediately answer text messages seeking his comment. - with ANC