• CA justice issues statement on CJH decision


    Babe G. Romualdez | Philstar | September 22, 2015

    Spy Bits received a statement from Court of Appeals Justice Noel Tijam, the ponente of the decision regarding consolidated cases involving Camp John Hay Development Corporation versus the Bases Conversion Development Authority, wherein the CA ruled that the private company is to vacate and revert certain leased properties to BCDA but only upon the latter’s payment of P1.4 billion.

    The 67-page decision “was arrived at after conducting four exhaustive hearings. The Decision is written in plain simple English. The factual, legal and jurisprudential bases are clearly and distinctly stated,” the statement read, urging media and the public to read the Decision to weed out the untruthful and self-serving statements of the parties involved.

    “There is no truth to BCDA’s assertion that the CA Decision is detrimental to the government’s financial interests. The Decision clearly declares that the rights and interests of 3rd parties vis-a-vis the BCDA must be litigated and adjudicated in separate arbitration proceedings or before the courts” the statement further said.

    The order for BCDA to pay CJH DevCo P1.4 billion is not the CA’s doing but made by the arbitral tribunal because of the finding of mutual breach – and this was not contested by the BCDA, Justice Tijam explained, adding that any perceived financial loss by the government is due to the BCDA’s failure to implead the third parties during the arbitration proceedings.

    “The case is now pending appeal with the Supreme Court. Common sense and legal propriety dictate that the merits of the case be left to the collective wisdom of the Supreme Court and not through the media. Since the matter is sub judice, only the Supreme Court can declare with finality whether the CA Decision is ‘highly irregular’ or correct. No amount of misrepresentation or drumbeating will sway or influence the Court,” the statement ended. (The full text of the Decision dated July 30, 2015 can be accessed on this link: http://ca.judiciary.gov.ph/cardis/SP140422.pdf.)

  • CJHDevCo blames BCDA’s Casanova for John Hay woes


    Baguio Chronicle | September 19-25, 2015

    CAMP John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo) recently blamed Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President Arnel Casanova for causing them problems which resulted to huge financial losses of the government.

    In an apparent answer to a press release by the BCDA last week announcing its filing of an appeal before the Supreme Court, CJHDevCo executive vice president Alfredo Yniguez III said in an interview that more than the Php 5 billion in supposed revenues and other losses has been incurred by the government partly because of Casanova’s failure to initially amicably settle with the private developer.

    “BCDA stands to lose much more than cash with the arbitral and appellate rulings that made the state agency liable for its primary role in the Camp John Hay mess,” Yniguez said.

    “More costly than money is the government’s loss of face because of BCDA’s decisions, the disappearance of its legitimacy and credibility as an extended Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Program money-maker and apparent immunity from congressional oversight,” he added.

    The CJHDevCo official says it is BCDA president Arnel Casanova who should be solely to blame for mishandling the Cmap John Hay issue, echoing the recent press statement made by CJHDevCo chairman Robert John Sobrepena that BCDA’s rejection of at least three unanswered letters in 2011 for a settlement agreement in 2011 shortchanged not only the government, but also the public and the private sector.

    He said BCDA’s rejection of the settlement agreement also deprived Baguio City of its 25-percent share in the rentals.

    Sobrepena in a press statement also added that had BCDA accepted the offer, CJHDevCo would have paid Php500 million upfront, Php3.3 billion over a 10-year period, and Php150 million in rentals yearly until 2046.

    But according to Yniguez this did not happen as he quoted Sobrepena claiming that under Casanova the BCDA stubbornly refused the offers of Camp John Hay’s private developer, resulting in an arbitral decision by the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. ordering the state agency to refund CJHDevCo Php1.42 billion in rent paid since 1996 and also declared that CJHDevCo is not liable for any alleged unpaid back rentals.

    BCDA also lost before the Court of Appeals after the latter ruled against the forced eviction of more than 1,600 third party investors and the private developer from the 247-hectare former American recreational facility, a move which the government agency said “jeopardized the public interest.”

    Yniguez also slammed Casanova for questioning a recent appellate court ruling preventing the forced eviction of more than 1,600 third party investors and the private developer from the 247-hectare former American recreational facility.

    “There is nothing irregular about the July 30 decision of the Court of Appeals which ordered BCDA to respect and not to disturb the contracts of third parties occupying the leased premises. In fact, the CA decision merely affirms the arbitration award, which the BCDA has continuously been trying to illegally modify,” Yniguez said.

    It can be recalled that the CA’s Special Fifth Division, through Associate Justice Noel Tijam, granted the petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by the John Hay developer to stop Baguio City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 6 Judge Cecilia Corazon Dulay-Archog from implementing a writ of execution and notice to vacate against CJHDevCo and the third parties occupying the leased property.

    Yniguez also said the CA ruling upheld the position of the property developer that all third parties are also vested rights holders who acted in “good faith” when they entered into contracts with CJHDevCo.

    “This clearly shows that third party residents and locators possess rights, as contained in the Philippines Constitution’s Bill of Rights, and cannot simply be evicted by the BCDA,” he said. “The Court of Appeals directed the BCDA to respect and not to disturb the various contracts of third parties occupying the premises in Camp John Hay.”

    “Clearly, there will be a price to pay, and it’s going to be much, much more than the Php1.42 billion that BCDA won’t or can’t pay,” he adds.

    Earlier, a partylist representative already warned BCDA that its mishandling of Camp John Hay has “deleterious” effect, especially on the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Modernization Program which gets 50 percent of BCDA’s lease revenues under existing laws.

    In his privilege speech, Abakada partylist Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz said with the questionable actions taken by BCDA president, the government’s private-public partnership program has “gone haywire resulting from the misguided, misplaced and high-handed management style of the current BCDA leadership.”

    Meanwhile, the longstanding legal battle between state-run BCDA and its lessee CJHDevCo over the former American base, Camp John Hay, now remains in the hands of the Supreme Court as the high court is expected to make a ruling on the case filed by the government corporation by the next month.

  • JCHDevco exec asks BCDA chief to respect CA decision


    Lorenz S. Marasigan | Business Mirror | September 21, 2015

    THE chairman of Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevco) called on the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to respect the decision of the Court of Appeals to grant the private company a respite in its tiff with the state-owned agency, calling the government office’s chief as an “irrational” man who thinks himself as above the law.

    While BCDA President Arnel Paciano Casanova claims that the government has lost P5 billion in revenues from the “grossly disadvantageous” decision of the appellate court, CJHDevco Chairman and CEO Robert Sobrepeña reminded the state official that the losses were, indeed, his fault.

    “Had Cassanova accepted CJHDevco’s offer to pay rentals in 2012 per the restructuring agreement instead of rejecting it without even entertaining CJHDevco’s written—and officially received—payment proposals, the BCDA would have made over P5 billion in rentals and Baguio City would have had its 25 percent share, as well. All CJHDevco required from the BCDA to pay those rentals was an assurance of development permits,” he said.

    It was Casanova who refused the permits guarantee to CJHDevco—which had been integral to the original 1996 lease agreement—rejected the written proposals and demanded that CJHDevco pay P3.3 billion without its honoring the restructured agreement, Sobrepeña added.

    “It is entirely Casanova’s fault for the BCDA losing billions of pesos. And to boot, the arbitration tribunal’s decision to cancel the P3.3 billion in rentals and refund over P1.42 billion to CJHDevco was agreed to and confirmed by the BCDA in court. That is now final and executory,” he said.

    Casanova also accused CA Associate Justice Noel Tijam of displaying partiality by changing the decision of the courts, to this Sobrepeña simply reminded the state official that the justice system is the ultimate check and balance in a democratic society.

    “It assures that justice will prevail even against an abusive and arrogant government official who refuses to honor contracts and believes the government is above the law. The decision in favor of CJHDevco by the arbitral tribunal, the confirmation by the Baguio Regional Trial Court and finally its upholding by the CA only demonstrates that justice prevails in this country, and sends a message to all that no one is above the law,” Sobrepeña said.

    Tijam, in a 67-page decision, modified the ruling of the arbitration court, requiring the private company to deliver the leased property to the state-run disposition agency as dependent on BCDA’s payment of P1.4 billion.

  • CA Justice answers BCDA statements on Camp John Hay ruling


    Vince A. A. F. Nonato | Business World | September 20, 2015

    COURT OF APPEALS (CA) Associate Justice Noel G. Tijam issued a rare media statement after the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) accused the court of rendering a “disadvantageous” ruling on the Camp John Hay dispute.
    Mr. Tijam urged the public to read the decision itself, in light of BCDA President Arnel Paciano D. Casanova’s reported statements that the CA’s July 30 ruling caused the government P5 billion in losses.

    The CA ruling, it may be recalled, stopped BCDA from enforcing on third-party tenants a February arbitral ruling that dissolved the government’s lease agreement with Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevCo). Because the third parties were not included in the proceedings, CA nullified a Baguio City court’s eviction order on the locators and ordered BCDA to arbitrate or litigate the claims.

    “There is nothing in the CA Decision that states that the third parties can stay in the subject premises forever,” Mr. Tijam clarified. “There is no truth to BCDA’s assertion that the CA Decision is detrimental to the government’s financial interests.”

    Mr. Tijam said CA should not be blamed for the alleged financial losses, because it was just executing the arbitral award where “there is no mention as to the rights and interests of third parties.”

    “Any perceived financial detriment to the government is not due to the CA Decision. It is solely attributable to the bad judgment on the part of BCDA in failing to involve and implead the third parties from the very outset in the arbitration proceedings,” Mr. Tijam said.

    “Instead of accepting as gospel truth the press releases of the parties, the responsible media, as well as the discerning public, must take time to read the Decision to weed out the untruthful and self-serving statements of the parties,” he added.

    Mr. Tijam also reminded BCDA that since the matter is sub judice (under judicial consideration), it should be “left to the collective wisdom of the Supreme Court and not through the media.”

    The Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. rescinded the 1996 lease agreement between the government and the Sobrepeña-owned developer citing mutual breach by both parties: the developer failed to pay rent and misrepresented its financial capacity, while the government failed to deliver on investor-friendly incentives.

    Because of this, BCDA was ordered to return the P1.4-billion rent CJHDevCo paid over the years, while the latter would vacate the premises.

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