Camp John Hay returns to BCDA
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – It was a victory for the government, as an arbitration committee ordered CJH Development Corporation (CJHDevco) to vacate Camp John Hay in Baguio City and return the property to the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
BCDA is the government agency mandated to develop Camp John Hay, a former US facility.
The 690-hectare property, originally developed for rest and recreation of employees of the US military and Department of Defense, was turned over to the Philippine government on July 1, 1991. It was initially administered by the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) and then turned over to BCDA.
“We see this as a victory for [the] government. Finally it will be returned and it can now be developed for the benefit of the public,” BCDA president and chief executive officer Arnel Paciano D. Casanova said Thursday, February 13, on the decision dated February 11, 2015.
But BCDA is tempering its celebratory mood on this legal victory as the body still has to study the decision and weigh their legal options.
CJHDevco has not been paying the BCDA its lease rentals and its arrears have ballooned to over P3.4 billion ($76.83 million), 25% of which should have been for the local government of Baguio.
The tribunal, chaired by Mario E. Valderrama, said since it cannot be determined which of the parties first violated the first 2008 restructuring memorandum of agreement (RMOA), it is then deemed extinguished due to the mutual breach of the same by both parties.
The decision added that the termination by respondent of the original lease agreement is a breach of the same by claimant CJHDevco.
“The claimant is ordered to vacate the leased premises and promptly deliver the leased property, inclusive of all new constructions and permanent improvements introduced during the term of the lease as reckoned from the execution of the original lease agreement to respondent in good and tenantable condition in all respects, reasonable wear and tear excepted,” the decision said.
CJHDevco is also ordered to pay its rentals in arrears amounting to P2.4 billion ($54.24 million), said in a separate opinion by co-arbitrator Teodoro Kalaw IV.
BCDA is now calling on investors in Camp John Hay to work with the agency for the proper development of the property.
“Whatever agreement they entered into with CJHDevco no longer applies because their subleases have been terminated with the principal lease,” Casanova said in a statement released Friday, February 13.
CJHDevco has been ordered to vacate the property and they should do so immediately, Casanova stressed.
"We want to ensure the security in Camp John Hay and prevent sabotage, pilferage, and the destruction of property,” Casanova said.
The public is also forewarned that CJHDevco no longer has the legal authority to do business within the zone.
In May 2012, BCDA terminated the lease of CJH Development Corporation (CJHDevCo) over the 247-hectare Camp John Hay Economic Zone for its failure to perform its obligations and for defaulting in its lease payments despite 3 restructurings.
In August 2012, BCDA filed with the DOJ an estafa complaint against CJHDevCo board of directors and officials for misrepresenting the state of the company's finances, misleading the government into believing that CJHDevCo was capable of paying its annual rent.
In a decision dated September 30, 2014, the Court of Appeals agreed with the BCDA’s position that “it is the public that suffers for the failure of CJHDevco to fulfill its obligations.”
BCDA appeals to investors
The BCDA is calling on investors in Camp John Hay to work with it for the proper development of the former US military facility.
“We are calling on investors in Camp John Hay to coordinate with us so we can work on an orderly transition.” BCDA president and chief executive officer Arnel Paciano Casanova said. “Whatever agreement they entered into with CJH Development Corporation (CJHDevco) no longer applies because their subleases have been terminated with the principal lease.”
The arbitration committee has ordered CJHDevco to vacate Camp John Hay and return the property to the BCDA in a decision dated February 11, 2015.
“CJHDevco has been ordered to vacate the property and they should do so immediately. We want to ensure the security in Camp John Hay and prevent sabotage, pilferage and the destruction of property,” Casanova said.
With the arbitral decision, the public is forewarned that CJHDevco no longer has the legal authority to do business within the zone. – Rappler.com