Lorenz S. Marasigan | Business Mirror | September 21, 2015

THE chairman of Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevco) called on the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to respect the decision of the Court of Appeals to grant the private company a respite in its tiff with the state-owned agency, calling the government office’s chief as an “irrational” man who thinks himself as above the law.

While BCDA President Arnel Paciano Casanova claims that the government has lost P5 billion in revenues from the “grossly disadvantageous” decision of the appellate court, CJHDevco Chairman and CEO Robert Sobrepeña reminded the state official that the losses were, indeed, his fault. 

“Had Cassanova accepted CJHDevco’s offer to pay rentals in 2012 per the restructuring agreement instead of rejecting it without even entertaining CJHDevco’s written—and officially received—payment proposals, the BCDA would have made over P5 billion  in rentals and Baguio City would have had its 25 percent share, as well.  All CJHDevco required from the BCDA to pay those rentals was an assurance of development permits,” he said. 

It was Casanova who refused the permits guarantee to CJHDevco—which had been integral to the original 1996 lease agreement—rejected the written proposals and demanded that CJHDevco pay P3.3 billion without its honoring the restructured agreement, Sobrepeña added.

“It is entirely Casanova’s fault for the BCDA losing billions of pesos. And to boot, the arbitration tribunal’s decision to cancel the P3.3 billion in rentals and refund over P1.42 billion to CJHDevco was agreed to and confirmed by the BCDA in court. That is now final and executory,” he said. 

Casanova also accused CA Associate Justice Noel Tijam of displaying partiality by changing the decision of the courts, to this Sobrepeña simply reminded the state official that the justice system is the ultimate check and balance in a democratic society.

“It assures that justice will prevail even against an abusive and arrogant government official who refuses to honor contracts and believes the government is above the law. The decision in favor of CJHDevco by the arbitral tribunal, the confirmation by the Baguio Regional Trial Court and finally its upholding by the CA only demonstrates that justice prevails in this country, and sends a message to all that no one is above the law,” Sobrepeña said.

Tijam, in a 67-page decision, modified the ruling of the arbitration court, requiring the private company to deliver the leased property to the state-run disposition agency as dependent on BCDA’s payment of P1.4 billion.