CA stops John Hay developer’s eviction

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BAGUIO CITY – The 5th Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) Tuesday issued a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the city’s Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 6 Judge Cecilia Corazon Dulay Archog, her agents and all persons acting for and on her behalf from enforcing the writ of execution and notice to vacate against the Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo) over the 247-hectare John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ) pending resolution of the petition for certiorari filed by the developer.

In a5-page resolution, Associate Justices Noel G. Tijam, Myra V. Garcia-Fernandez and Victoria Isabel A. Paredes required the Sobrepeña-owned CJHDevCo to post a P30 million injunction bond.

Aside from Archog, named respondents in CJHDevCo’s petition for certiorari and prohibition with urgent application for the issuance of TRO and writ of preliminary injunction were Bobby B. Galano, RTC Branch 6 sheriff and the State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

“To give the petitioner the opportunity to articulate its prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and/or the private respondent to comment on the same, we find it necessary to conduct a summary hearing. Thus, a hearing is set on July 1 and 2, 2015 at 10:30 o’clock in the morning at the Paras Hall of this court,” the resolution stated.

The CA ordered all respondents to submit their respective comments on the petition as well as on the application for preliminary injunction within ten (10) days from receipt of the notice while the developer was required to file a reply to the said comments within five (5) days from receipt of the same.

On May 12, 2015, CJHDevCo filed before the CA the aforesaid petition assailing Judge Archog implied denial of its earlier omnibus motion in causing the implementation of execution, dated April 14, 2015 and the notice to vacate dated April 20, 2015 issued by Atty. Linda Montes-Loloy, and Bobby D. Galano, in their capacity as ex-officio sheriff and RTC sheriff.

The developer alleged that the 30-day grace period provided in the notice to vacate expired Wednesday and that it will be mandated to comply with its obligation to vacate the leased premises even before BCDA has properly performed its reciprocal and mutual obligation to pay the amount of P1.42 billion.

Furthermore, CJHDevCo pointed out in the petition that the third parties who are occupying the leased premises as sub-lessees who were never heard during the arbitration proceedings will also be ordered to vacate their properties without due process and that as such, there is no guarantee that the third parties will vacate the premises peacefully, hence, there is a danger of widespread chaos, physical confrontation and possible bloodshed, therefore, the grant of the TRO prayed for is of extreme urgency.

It can be recalled that on February 11, 2015, the Makati-based Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. (PDRCI) rendered the final award rescinding the original and subsequent lease agreements over the JHSEZ due to mutual breach of both parties. In the said final award, CJHDevCo was ordered to vacate the leased property and to promptly deliver the same to BCDA. Corollary, BCDA was also ordered to return to CJHDevCo the amount of P1.42 billion as advance rentals paid by the latter.

On March 6, 2015, CJHDevCo filed its verified petition for confirmation of final award before the RTC Branch 6, and in an order dated March 27, 2015, Judge Archog confirmed the final award in toto.

On April 14, 2015, Judge Arc hog issued a writ of execution. During the pre-execution conference, both parties manifested conflicting positions as to the effect of the final award on the third parties occupying the leased property.

However, Judge Archog declined to rule on the effect of the final award on the third parties.

On April 20, 2015, the notice to vacate was served to CJHDevCo giving it at least 30 days to peacefully vacate the property.

On April 22, 2015, notices to vacate were also served on the third parties occupying the leased property which prompted CJHDevCo to file a very urgent omnibus motion praying among others for the RTC to declare that the phrase ‘and all persons claiming under them’ in the notice to vacate refer only to CJHDevCo, its employees, officers, managerial and marketing staff and security personnel and not the third parties and to exclude the third party vested right holders from the enforcement of the final award, the writ of execution and notice to vacate.

Robert John Sobrepeña, CJHDevCo chairman, cited it is business as usual inside John Hay and that the latest CA ruling would render the vindication of what they were fighting for from the start of the conflict which was the recognition of the vested rights of third parties to their investments.

“We simply want to protect our sub-locators and third parties from the wanton eviction being readied by BCDA, defying lawful provisions on the recognition of third parties without due process,” the CJHDevCo official stressed.

By Dexter A. See

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