Vince A. A. F. Nonato | Business World | September 20, 2015

COURT OF APPEALS (CA) Associate Justice Noel G. Tijam issued a rare media statement after the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) accused the court of rendering a “disadvantageous” ruling on the Camp John Hay dispute.

Mr. Tijam urged the public to read the decision itself, in light of BCDA President Arnel Paciano D. Casanova’s reported statements that the CA’s July 30 ruling caused the government P5 billion in losses.

The CA ruling, it may be recalled, stopped BCDA from enforcing on third-party tenants a February arbitral ruling that dissolved the government’s lease agreement with Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevCo). Because the third parties were not included in the proceedings, CA nullified a Baguio City court’s eviction order on the locators and ordered BCDA to arbitrate or litigate the claims.

“There is nothing in the CA Decision that states that the third parties can stay in the subject premises forever,” Mr. Tijam clarified. “There is no truth to BCDA’s assertion that the CA Decision is detrimental to the government’s financial interests.”

Mr. Tijam said CA should not be blamed for the alleged financial losses, because it was just executing the arbitral award where “there is no mention as to the rights and interests of third parties.”

“Any perceived financial detriment to the government is not due to the CA Decision. It is solely attributable to the bad judgment on the part of BCDA in failing to involve and implead the third parties from the very outset in the arbitration proceedings,” Mr. Tijam said.

“Instead of accepting as gospel truth the press releases of the parties, the responsible media, as well as the discerning public, must take time to read the Decision to weed out the untruthful and self-serving statements of the parties,” he added.

Mr. Tijam also reminded BCDA that since the matter is sub judice (under judicial consideration), it should be “left to the collective wisdom of the Supreme Court and not through the media.”

The Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. rescinded the 1996 lease agreement between the government and the SobrepeƱa-owned developer citing mutual breach by both parties: the developer failed to pay rent and misrepresented its financial capacity, while the government failed to deliver on investor-friendly incentives.

Because of this, BCDA was ordered to return the P1.4-billion rent CJHDevCo paid over the years, while the latter would vacate the premises.