Emil Jurado | September 10, 2015 | The Standard
THE state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority cannot stop persecuting the Robert “Bob” Sobrepeña-owned Camp John Hay Development Corp., the developer of 247 hectares of the former American base in Baguio City. It continues to bully not only the developer despite the ruling of an arbitral tribunal and courts of law against it, but also against some 1,631 homeowners, locators, log cabin owners and in fact all investors.
Despite the judgment of the Court of Appeals on July 30, 2015 regarding the claims of BCDA president Arnel Paciano Casanova and his lawyers that BCDA is the rightful owners of ALL investments (structures, land, memberships and businesses) made by the homeowners in good faith as private citizens and corporations, Casanova said that the appellate court’s decision was irregular and contrary to law. He then elevated the case to the Supreme Court.
Here’s what the Court of Appeals said in its decision:
* The Third Parties are possessors in good faith and for value of the units in the leased property. They have valid contracts with CJHDevCo despite the fact that CJHDevCo is not the owner of the land on which their property is built.
* A building by itself is a real and immovable property distinct from the land on which it is constructed, and therefore, can be a separate subject of contracts. This is precisely what happened here, where CJHDevCo entered into contracts of sale with petitioners-intervenors (Third Parties) over its improvements on the leased property. The Deeds of Sale entered into by Petitioners-Intervenors with CJHDevCo appear to be contracts of sale of improvements subject to a resolutory 50-year term.
* Petitioners-Intervenors are entitled to a legal presumption of just title considering their status as lawful possessors of the improvements which they purchased in good faith and for value from CJHDevCo.
The Petitioners-Intervenors, being possessors in good faith and for value, have the right to be protected from the efforts of recession of the Original Lease Agreement between BCDA and CJHDevCo. It is admitted that the Petitioners-Intervenors were not informed of the arbitral proceedings. As a consequence of the non-inclusion of their rights in the Final Award, Petitioners-Intervenors cannot be covered by the Order of Confirmation of Final Award, Writ of Education and Notice to Vacate.
The principle that a person cannot be prejudiced by a ruling rendered in an action or proceedings in which he has not been made a party thereto applies in strict sense—in conformity with the constitutional guarantee of due process of law.
* It is so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty for the RTC Baguio Court Branch 6 to include Petitioners-Intervenors in the Notice to Vacate that resulted in the taking of property without due process of law.
* A Writ of Prohibition is issued PERMANENTLY restraining RTC of Baguio Branch 6 Judge Cecilia Corazon Dulay-Archog, the Ex Oficio Sheriff of Baguio City, Atty. Linda Montes Loloy, the Sheriff of RTC-Branch 6, Bobby Calano, from enforcing and implementing the March 27, 2013 Order, April 14, 2015 Write of Execution and Notice to Vacate against Third Parties.
* BCDA is ordered to respect and not to disturb the contracts of Third Parties occupying the leased premises.
The decision of the Court of Appeals is precise and clear in upholding the Constitution. So, what’s Casanova and his lawyers beefing about? The truth of the matter is that the Court of Appeals ruling is a big slap on Casanova and the BCDA. Santa Banana, why then is the BCDA going to the Supreme Court where it can be further humiliated? My gulay, to think these are all at the expense of the BCDA.
I recall that there was also a one-page advertisement in all the national newspapers seeking President Aquino’s intervention to follow the rule of law. But, since he is so insensitive, so hardened and lacking empathy for people he loves to call his “bosses,” he did not lift a finger to stop the BCDA and Casanova from further embarrassing the Aquino administration.
The President should fire Casanova and his lawyers from further bullying CJHDevCo and the 1,631 homeowners and vested rights holders in Camp John Hay. The biggest losers in this controversy are not only the Baguio City government, losing its 25 percent participation in the development, but tourism in Baguio. This is all because Casanova is also obsessed in kicking out Sobrepeña and all the homeowners and investors from the Camp.