City can better manage John Hay economic zone

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BAGUIO CITY – The Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo) believes the city government is in the best position to administer, manage and operate the 247-hectare John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ) because local officials are fully aware of the importance of the zone to the city’s robust economic growth.

Robert John Sobrepeña, CJHDevCo chairman, said the State-run Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) is simply the caretaker of former American military bases in the country but there are local governments serving as host communities and the authority of local officials over such facilities must be recognized and given importance.

“If I was to be followed, I will directly turnover the camp to the city government because I know that it will be effectively and efficiently managed for the greater interest of the local residents,” Sobrepeña stressed.

Earlier, the city’s Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 6 confirmed the decision rendered by the Philippine Dispute Resolution Inc. (PDRCI) which ordered a mutual restitution of the lease agreement entered into between BCDA and CJHDevCo for the development of the former American rest and recreation center into a world-class tourism center.

Furthermore, the PDRCI also ordered the CJHDevCo to turn over all the properties in tenantable situation to BCDA and in turn ordered the BCDA to pay the developer the total amount of P1.42 billion in lease rentals that it paid to the government since 1996.

The CJHDevCo chairman pointed out John Hay was supposed to be an engine of growth in the city but it seems BCDA was not up to fulfill its commitments that resulted to the commission of serious breaches which subsequently resulted to the filing of the arbitration case.

He said city officials know the value of the former American rest and recreation center to the economy of the city and they know how to maximize its operation through the optimum utilization of the existing facilities in order to contribute in spurring continuous economic growth that will translate to the improved living condition of the people.

According to him, the 19 conditions imposed by the city government prior to the development of John Hay pursuant to Resolution No. 362, series of 1994 shows the concern of local officials on how the development in the economic zone will be undertaken so that the state of the environment will be preserved and protected for the benefit of the present and future generations of local residents.

As a responsible developer, he explained CJHDevCo adopted a policy that no building will be built higher than the tallest pine tree within the special economic zone and that they were able to fulfill such commitment when they built other structures within the developable areas of the sone.

He added that when the developer took over the camp, there were only 2500,000 trees that were in the area but now that they are leaving the facility, they will be leaving behind some 480,000 trees which is almost double the number of trees when they entered the camp.

He expressed doubts on the sincerity of BCDA to comply with the 19 conditions as ranking officials of the State-run corporation have issued statements that BCDA will not recognize a mere resolution since what governs their operation is the law that created the BCDA that empowered it as the caretaker of all former military bases. By Dexter A. See

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