Conrado R. Banal III | 8:08 AM | March 16th, 2015
The government is the biggest property company in the country, but like it or not, since the business involves tons of money, its real estate agents more often than not fall into controversial deals.
Two of those agents are state-owned corporations Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), which turns former military bases into commercial ventures, and Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA), the former PEA, which approves all land reclamation projects in the country.
Just last month, for instance, the BCDA was again poised to deploy heavily armed men, sometimes known as “goons,” for an apparent forcible takeover of the 247-hectare Camp John Hay economic zone in Baguio City.
It seemed that the BCDA wanted to enforce a recent ruling on its long-running dispute with the project proponent, Camp John Hay Development Corp., or CJHDC, which ironically was the BCDA’s joint venture partner for the past 20 years.
Since the BCDA and CJHDC had conflicting claims on the Baguio project, the courts ordered them in 2005 to go into arbitration before the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center Inc., or PDRCI.
Last month, after 10 years, the center ruled that CJHDC must vacate Camp John Hay, and so the BCDA apparently thought it wise to implement the ruling by itself right away, preferably through a forcible takeover with goons.
Based on reports in Baguio-based newspaper Morning Sun, the BCDA tried to occupy the economic zone at night—i.e. non office hours—with the threat of using heavily armed men.
The BCDA claimed that, because of the arbitration ruling, it could simply throw into the wastebasket all “contracts” of the locators in the economic zone.
It did not matter to the BCDA that the PDRCI also ruled that, actually, it was the BCDA that violated the joint venture agreement with CJHDC and that the BCDA must pay CJHDC some P1.4 billion in damages.
The PDRCI ruling also needed another court procedure: That is the Regional Trial Court must confirm, on the one hand, the award of P1.4 billion to CJHDC, and on the other, the termination of the joint venture agreement.
Thus CJHDC claimed that, until then, while it should wait for the RTC confirmation and the BCDA payment of the P1.4 billion, the CJHDC would have to continue running the day-to-day affairs in the economic zone.
But the BCDA ruled on its own that all debts were off, including the P1.4 billion award for damages set by the arbitration center, and so it did not have to cough up such a huge amount, perhaps because the BCDA would have to scamper for it.
For the people in this agency, the BCDA must take over the project right away!
Now, the BCDA had a record of using heavily armed men to implement the whims and wishes of its boss, Arnel Casanova, who was said to have been “recommended” by a huge real estate company for the position under the Aquino (Part II) administration.
About two years ago, the same BCDA used the same commando-like tactic to harass the SM group in its Aura mall project at the Bonifacio Global City by closing down the roads around the mall.
Earlier in 2012, the BCDA also used heavily armed personnel to try to demolish the homes of retired and active military officers and soldiers in areas of Fort Bonifacio were not even under the BCDA.