BAGUIO CITY May 17 – The 1,631 homeowners and locators of the 247-hectare John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ) petitioned President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to command the State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to spare them from their eventual eviction considering that they were never a party to any legal litigation that would require them to leave their investments in the former American military base.
In a letter to the President, the embattled locators claimed the act of BCDA to simply evict them without the benefit of due process of law is sending a wrong signal to the private sector and on the sincerity of the government to comply with its obligations under the public-private partnership (PPP) considering that they already paid for their rights over their properties until October 2046 in response to the call of government to patronize the famous PPP in order to generate more private partners.
The letter to the President duly signed by the affected third parties cited they were shocked to learn from a BCDA full-page ad that they are being ordered to return their fully paid homes and shares to the BCA without compensation and due process which is no longer in consonance to the government’s policy and transparency and accountability.
“We are not a party to the dispute between BCDA and the developer, Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo), and we were never heard by a court of law. Yet, an officer under yours has publicly demanded that we, without due process abandon our hard earned investments,” the letter stated.
According to the disgruntled locators, BCDA has used the money of the investors to pay to CJHDevCo their court mandated interest obligation and how come that they are to eventually lose their homes simply because BCDA and the developer cannot make their previous agreements work.
“The arbitral decision declares that because both BCDA and CJHDevCo are in mutual breach, both are deemed to be in good faith. Yet, we, the purchasing public, who purchased in utmost good faith have the only ones branded in bad faith and more so, the only penalized party,” the letter stressed.
The letter added that there is a precedent in the aforesaid case wherein the government honored third party rights and investments in Clark Freeport zone, particularly in Mimosa, thus, the President must direct BCDA to do the same in their case in John Hay.
“The BCDA is insistent that CJHDevCo has only a 25-year lease and that the developer has duped us buyers by selling 50-year leases. But the original lease agreements was for 25 years renewable for another 25 years at the sole option of CJHDevCo on the same terms until 2046.,” the letter further stated.
Ironically, the homeowners admitted that BCDA made an offer that would allow them to stay in their homes but is contingent on their signing an ‘extremely unjust deed of assignment’ with alarming stipulations such as to give the BCDA an unconditional and irreversible power of attorney and a formal acknowledgement that they have no legal right to stay inside John Hay nor take any legal action against BCDA now and in the future, to pre-agree that they will appear in any court or tribunal to testify against CJHDevCo as well as sign any document that the BCDA deems fit, including the use of statements and affidavits against the developer with contents they know nothing about now and also sight unseen, they have to sign terms and conditions that they BCDA my deem fit.
“Why are we being coerced to sign this deed of assignment as a pre-condition to our continued stay in our fully paid homes?” the homeowners asked the President.
The locators asserted the stress of being unlawfully evicted is difficult to bare and is adversely affecting our physical and psychological well being and that the BCDA’s intention to evict innocent investors casts doubts on the sincerity of the government in any of its premier PPP projects in the different parts of the country.
The locators accused BCDA as behaving not in accordance to the gesture that the President wants from his allies in the different branches of government, thus, the need for presidential intervention to put an end to the tensed situation inside John Hay.
It can be recalled that by May 20, the 30-day grace period granted by the city’s Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 6 to the sheriff to implement the judicial confirmation of the arbitral decision will expire.
By Wednesday, BCDA shall have paid to CJHDevCo the amount of P1.42 billion in accumulated rentals since 1996 while CJHDevCo shall have turned over to BCA the premises of the former American military base.
By Dexter A. See