By Emil Jurado| Mar. 26, 2015 at 12:01am
SEVERAL Camp John Hay unit owners, locators and sub-lessees I know have expressed concern over what would happen next with the Bases Conversion Development Authority. The agency issued a statement that as a result of the three-man Arbitration Tribunal’s decision on the decades-old controversy between itself and John Sobrepena’s Camp John Hay Development Corp., they may have to be ejected from the Camp.
BCDA president Arnel Casanova and lawyers have been saying that as a result of the Arbitration Board’s decision terminating the 1996 Original Lease Agreement for CJHDevco to develop the former US naval reservation in Baguio City, all contracts should now go to the BCDA. This will help them seek a refund from CJHDevco. The developer was also rewarded approximately P1.42 billion in rentals it had paid since 1998.
Failure to do so, Casanova and BCDA lawyers say, would force BCDA to take over their units and other structures built.
BCDA also claims that CJHDevco is authorized to lease Camp John Hay properties and units for only 25 years. Thus, the 50-year leases are illegal.
I don’t know where Casanova and his lawyers are coming from in wanting to eject the Sobrepena group out of the camp. Didn’t they study civil law or read the Civil Code or the Constitution? Possessors in good faith have vested rights, and no man can be deprived of his property without having his day in court.
Besides, Section 1385 of the Civil Code expressly states that an order of mutual restitution cannot include properties currently in the possession of third persons who acted in good faith. More importantly, my gulay, locators, unit owners and sub-lessees are not parties to the arbitration case.
Contrary to BCDA’s assertions, the final award of the Arbitral Tribunal is not executory since under the law, CJHDevco cannot be required to turn over the Camp until and unless the arbitration award is confirmed by the Regional Trial Court of Baguio, which ordered the arbitration.
Under the law, BCDA cannot repudiate contracts entered into by the Camp developer since BCDA has expressly consented to the same. Both the BCDA and CJHDevco have been found to have committed mutual breaches.
An examination of the 2008 Restructuring Memorandum Agreement between the BCDA and CJHDevco will lead to no other conclusion other than that the state agency expressly consented to the subletting of real estate developments found within the Camp. This is but logical as the main obligation of the developer is precisely to develop the leased property and sublet it to third parties.
Now, take note of this. From 2009 to 2011, the BCDA had four nominees in the CJHDevco board. Thus, the Limited Warranty Deeds issued by the developer confirming the existence of subleases until October 2046 were approved with the participation of BCDA’s nominees.
Thus, BCDA was fully aware of the LWD. It could have objected if some issues were unacceptable to its representatives. It never did. Under the circumstances, BCDA cannot now disclaim knowledge of the sublease contracts nor claim that it never consented to subletting the properties. Otherwise, BCDA would be allowed to reward itself for its breaches, or worse, enrich itself at the expense of the people who patronized the project.
It is an elementary rule of fairness that no man shall be affected by a proceeding in which he is a stranger. Since locators, unit owners and subleases are not a party to the arbitration case, BCDA cannot by any stretch of the imagination now include them.
The Camp John Hay development is a PPP (private-public project) gone haywire because of Casanova’s obsession to eject the Sobrepena group and award it to some other party he likes.
If Casanova and BCDA lawyers do what they intend to do in violation of existing laws, he may end up like his boss, the President when a new administration is installed— in jail.