BCDA sues Sobrepeña group for ‘squatting’ in John Hay

BCDA filed criminal case vs Sobrepeña-led firms for building housing for their guards and K9 units without the state-lessor's consent

MANILA, Philippines – State firm Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) sued 2 Sobrepeña-led companies and their officers for “professional squatting” and required them to dismantle structures in Camp John Hay in Baguio City.   

In the criminal case filed at the Department of Justice, BCDA said the 2 firms are illegally occupying the government-owned property and have not been compensating the state.

BCDA cited violations of Section 27 of the Urban Development Housing Act of 1992 committed by its lessee, Camp John Hay Development Corp (CJHDevco) and its security agency, Warbird Security and Investigation Agency

BCDA and CJHDevco are in a debt feud over unpaid lease obligations amounting to P3 billion. A memorandum of agreement have been signed in 2008 to restructure the debts but BCDA complained the Sobrepeña-led firm has rescinded it.


BCDA president and CEO Arnel Casanova said the Sobrepeña group built housing  housing for their guards and K9 units within the BCDA property without BCDA’s consent.  
“This is professional squatting,” according to Casanova. “Its patent violation of the law and failure to immediately dismantle the illegal structures compelled BCDA to file a case against CJHDevco and its security agency.”

Casanova said he has ordered CJHDevco and Warbird to immediately dismantle and demolish all of its illegally-constructed structures within Camp John Hay, but his directive remained unheeded, prompting the BCDA to take action by sending its own security personnel to effect the demolition.

The John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC), BCDA’s subsidiary and estate manager of JHSEZ has sent 3 letters to CJHDevco asking for the dismantling of the illegal structures, but the lessee failed to comply.

“People who should be enforcing the law and order inside the JHSEZ are themselves violating the law while reaping the benefits of operating inside the economic zone,” Casanova said.  


CJHDevco has defaulted on its lease payments to BCDA. The Sobrepena firm’s financial obligations have swelled to more than P3 billion.

Casanova pointed out that CJHDevco’s debts have been restructured 3 times to allow for debt payments. “But it has become obvious that CJHDevco wants to benefit from its operations in John Hay without remitting what is due to the government,” he said.

“BCDA has been very patient with CJHDevco. However we will not tolerate any transgression of the law within Camp John Hay,” Casanova stressed.

He also noted an increase in Warbird’s security guards who have reportedly intimidated local Baguio residents wanting to enter Camp John Hay.


The respondents of the criminal case that BCDA filed include the following individuals:

  • Robert John Sobrepeña, CJHDevco chairman and Warbird vice chair
  • Ferdinand Santos, CJHDevco president and Warbird director
  • Enrique Sobrepeña Jr., CJHDevco director and Warbird Treasurer
  • Alfredo Yniguez, CJHDevco chief operating officer
  • Jose Montoya, Warbird president and chief operating officer ,
  • Edwardo Matillano,
  • Alberto Escalderon
  • Bersamen Ducusin, K9 housing supervisor
  • Francisco Velasco, guard supervisor

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