Baguio Chronicle | September 19-25, 2015
CAMP John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo) recently blamed Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President Arnel Casanova for causing them problems which resulted to huge financial losses of the government.
In an apparent answer to a press release by the BCDA last week announcing its filing of an appeal before the Supreme Court, CJHDevCo executive vice president Alfredo Yniguez III said in an interview that more than the Php 5 billion in supposed revenues and other losses has been incurred by the government partly because of Casanova’s failure to initially amicably settle with the private developer.
“BCDA stands to lose much more than cash with the arbitral and appellate rulings that made the state agency liable for its primary role in the Camp John Hay mess,” Yniguez said.
“More costly than money is the government’s loss of face because of BCDA’s decisions, the disappearance of its legitimacy and credibility as an extended Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Program money-maker and apparent immunity from congressional oversight,” he added.
The CJHDevCo official says it is BCDA president Arnel Casanova who should be solely to blame for mishandling the Cmap John Hay issue, echoing the recent press statement made by CJHDevCo chairman Robert John Sobrepena that BCDA’s rejection of at least three unanswered letters in 2011 for a settlement agreement in 2011 shortchanged not only the government, but also the public and the private sector.
He said BCDA’s rejection of the settlement agreement also deprived Baguio City of its 25-percent share in the rentals.
Sobrepena in a press statement also added that had BCDA accepted the offer, CJHDevCo would have paid Php500 million upfront, Php3.3 billion over a 10-year period, and Php150 million in rentals yearly until 2046.
But according to Yniguez this did not happen as he quoted Sobrepena claiming that under Casanova the BCDA stubbornly refused the offers of Camp John Hay’s private developer, resulting in an arbitral decision by the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. ordering the state agency to refund CJHDevCo Php1.42 billion in rent paid since 1996 and also declared that CJHDevCo is not liable for any alleged unpaid back rentals.
BCDA also lost before the Court of Appeals after the latter ruled against the forced eviction of more than 1,600 third party investors and the private developer from the 247-hectare former American recreational facility, a move which the government agency said “jeopardized the public interest.”
Yniguez also slammed Casanova for questioning a recent appellate court ruling preventing the forced eviction of more than 1,600 third party investors and the private developer from the 247-hectare former American recreational facility.
“There is nothing irregular about the July 30 decision of the Court of Appeals which ordered BCDA to respect and not to disturb the contracts of third parties occupying the leased premises. In fact, the CA decision merely affirms the arbitration award, which the BCDA has continuously been trying to illegally modify,” Yniguez said.
It can be recalled that the CA’s Special Fifth Division, through Associate Justice Noel Tijam, granted the petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by the John Hay developer to stop Baguio City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 6 Judge Cecilia Corazon Dulay-Archog from implementing a writ of execution and notice to vacate against CJHDevCo and the third parties occupying the leased property.
Yniguez also said the CA ruling upheld the position of the property developer that all third parties are also vested rights holders who acted in “good faith” when they entered into contracts with CJHDevCo.
“This clearly shows that third party residents and locators possess rights, as contained in the Philippines Constitution’s Bill of Rights, and cannot simply be evicted by the BCDA,” he said. “The Court of Appeals directed the BCDA to respect and not to disturb the various contracts of third parties occupying the premises in Camp John Hay.”
“Clearly, there will be a price to pay, and it’s going to be much, much more than the Php1.42 billion that BCDA won’t or can’t pay,” he adds.
Earlier, a partylist representative already warned BCDA that its mishandling of Camp John Hay has “deleterious” effect, especially on the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Modernization Program which gets 50 percent of BCDA’s lease revenues under existing laws.
In his privilege speech, Abakada partylist Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz said with the questionable actions taken by BCDA president, the government’s private-public partnership program has “gone haywire resulting from the misguided, misplaced and high-handed management style of the current BCDA leadership.”
Meanwhile, the longstanding legal battle between state-run BCDA and its lessee CJHDevCo over the former American base, Camp John Hay, now remains in the hands of the Supreme Court as the high court is expected to make a ruling on the case filed by the government corporation by the next month.