CJH developer seeks confirmation of P1.42B award

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BAGUIO CITY – The Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCO) Friday filed with thecity’s Regional Trial Court a Petition for the confirmation against the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) of the P1.42 billion money award to CJHDEVCO by the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. (PDRCI).

The Verified Petition for Confirmation of Final Award by PDRCI was filed by CJH executives.  In the petition, CJHDEVCO asked the court to confirm the Final Award, enter judgment in accordance with the Award, issue the writ of execution for the P1.42 billion money award and appoint a commissioner to oversee the turn-over of the leased property to the BCDA after BCDA pays the P1.42 billion money award to CJHDEVCO.  CJHDEVCO also gave the court a list of third parties with vested rights in the leased property.

“BCDA is expected to continue to honor and respect all the rights and interests of third parties, such as locators, sub-lessees, unit owners, lot owners and golf club members since they acquired their interests in good faith and are not covered by the arbitral award to vacate,” said Mr. Yniguez, COO of CJHDevco.

The PDRCI Final Award rendered last 11 February 2015 adjudged CJHDEVCO as not liable for the P3.3 billion back rental claimed by BCDA and instead ordered BCDA to pay CJHDEVCO by way of damages for breach of contract, P1.42 billion, effectively returning to CJHDEVCO all rental payments for the former American rest and recreation center since 1997.

“The decision of PDRCI is a vindication of our position that we do not owe BCDA any rentals,” said Mr. Yniguez.  “PDRCI also confirmed our position that we are the aggrieved party in the relationship with BCDA, and for this reason, awarded our prayer for damages which PDRCI set at P1.42 billion,” said Mr. Yniguez.

The filing of the petition confirms CJHDevCo’s earlier commitment to abide by the Final Award of the PDRCI.

Earlier, the BCDA and its subsidiary, the John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC), must honor third party interests or contracts with third parties for properties and businesses within Camp John Hay a legal luminary said here.

“The (arbitration) decision does not affect third parties,” lawyer Gilbert Reyes of the Poblador Reyes law offices explained.” An arbitration case is not like a court case; it’s a case between parties alone and affects only the parties involved in the case and the dispute that is being heard for arbitration.

He pointed out the management of the Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo) trust that even with the issuance of the award, the parties will act in ‘good faith’ and with due regard for the rights and interests of innocent third parties who are not involved in the dispute between CJH DevCo and the BCDA.

“An arbitration case was filed by CJHDevCo against the BCDA after BCDA refused to accept CJHDevCo’s offer of payments and instead insisted on a payment from CJHDevCo of an alleged obligation of P3.3 Billion for rental back payments,” Reyes stressed.

He cited the arbitration court ruled that CJHDevCo is not liable for this alleged obligation of P3.3 Billion.

Reyes revealed the arbitration court also ordered BCDA to return P1.42 Billion to CJHDevCo that CJHDevCo had paid in lease rental payments due to the various breaches of contract by the BCDA during the existence of the original and revised lease agreements which were subsequently rescinded by the arbitration tribunal.

Reyes asserted it is very clear that the arbitration court ruled that BCDA breached the contract between BCDA and CJHDevCo when it failed to set up an agreed upon One Stop Action Center that was supposed to speed up the processing of permits for the development of Camp John Hay and the 30-day guarantee period for the issuance of appropriate permits and licenses for the developer and the leaseholders.

Reyes claimed after the decision on the arbitration case was released on 11 February 2015, there were confirmed reports that the BCDA had attempted to forcibly take over Camp John Hay again, just as they have attempted in the past without a valid court order. It was reported that this incident required the intervention of the good Mayor of Baguio, Hon. Mauricio G. Domogan, to prevent what could have otherwise been another Mamasapano tragedy.

Executives of Camp John Hay DevCo stress that this move by BCDA is illegal. “BCDA must respect all existing contracts with locators. Aside from that, CJHDevCo continues to have right of possession,” Yniguez added.

“There is also an existing ‘Writ of Injunction’ against the BCDA ordered by the Baguio RTC that specifically restrains BCDA from any attempts of a forcibletakeover,” the CJHDevCo official said.

“We would also like to stress that as per contract, CJHDevCo has a 50-year lease, not a 25-year leasehold as BCDA is trying to misrepresent. BCDA was aware of and consented to a 50-year lease from the very beginning, which expires on October 2046,” Yniguez added.

In fact, he emphasized the BCDA signed a lease contract with more than 50-years tenure with a locator in Camp John Hay. BCDA is supposed to remit 25% of rental income in CJH to the City of Baguio representing the local government’s share from the privatization of the former American military base.

Consistent with BCDA’s long history of violations, Yniguez argued this is also against one of the provisions of the ‘19 Conditionalities’ resolution of the City of Baguio which BCDA acceded to as a condition for the development of Camp John Hay.

By Dexter A. See

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