BCDA says CJHDevco cut Baguio short
MANILA, Philippines –The local government of Baguio City could have benefitted more from the John Hay Special Economic Zone if only the private developer were more socially responsible and transparent, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority said.
BCDA president Arnel Paciano Casanova slammed the Robert Sobrepeña-led Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevco) saying that if not for the latter’s millions of pesos in arrears in rental payments to the national government, “Baguio City would have received more from its revenue share of Camp John Hay and appropriated these funds to social welfare programs.”
“Around P850 million ($18.8 million) of public funds should have been given to the people Baguio and the Cordilleras,” he added.
Casanova was speaking at a special executive and legislative session of the Baguio local government unit held on July 10, Friday.
He was accompanied by Jamie Agbayani, president of the John Hay Management Corporation, and lawyer Peter Andrew Flores, BCDA legal department head.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan and Vice Mayor Edison Bilog led local government officials in the dialogue.
Money needed for better infrastructure
“In spite of CJHDevco’s non-payment of rental for so many years, BCDA had already shared around P250 million ($5.54 million) from the revenues of John Hay, to Baguio City and neighboring local government units,” Casanova said.
Other localities that are supposed to benefit from proceeds of the John Hay Special Economic Zone are La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay.
“Mr. Sobrepeña and his friends treat John Hay as their kingdom, they golf and party, they land in Baguio in helicopters and flaunt a life of extravaganza but they continuously fail to meet their obligations to the city of Baguio,” he added..
The BCDA chief cited as an example a tragic incident in August 2011 where at least 3 children died from a landslide in a Hillside dumpsite which highlighted Baguio’s decaying urban landscape and need for more public funds for social welfare and infrastructure programs.
“Children like these victims would have been saved from the squalor of poverty if Baguio had gotten more funds from the shares of John Hay,” he added.
Casanova also assured the city council and Mayor Domogan that the BCDA would continue to recognize a previous council resolution called the 19 Conditionalities on the management of John Hay because it is consistent with R.A. 7227, or the law creating BCDA.
CJHDevco continuing to profit
“CJHDevco defrauded the people and the national government because while asking for loan restructuring, they are declaring at least one billion in dividends to its affiliates and business partners”, Casanova said
Up to now, and even having already been evicted by the court, CJHDevco continues to do business and profits from government-owned properties,he added.
CJHDevco has reportedly gained more than P6 billion since the original lease of agreement to develop John Hay was signed in 1996 said the BCDA.
The lease agreement has since been rescinded by a final award by an Arbitral Tribunal and the Baguio Regional Trial Court ordered CJHDevco to be evicted from Camp John Hay on April 20.
The Court of Appeals (CA), however, issued a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) or until July 19, prohibiting the the eviction from being carried out.
Earlier this month, CJHDevco asked the CA to protect the interest of more than 1,600 third party investors inside the former American recreational facility. – Rappler.com
$1 = P 45.09