John Hay firm sues BCDA execsBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
They’ve had enough of their “incompetence.”
An official of the Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevco) on Wednesday filed graft charges against eight executives of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) at the Ombudsman for allegedly failing to do their part in a deal to develop the John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ) in Baguio City.
Manuel Ubarra Jr., vice president of CJHDevco, alleged that the BCDA executives failed to operate the One Stop Action Center (OSAC) and issue permits and licenses for the development of the special economic zone into a public tourism complex, forest watershed and development center.
The operation of the OSAC and issuance of permits were the obligations of the BCDA under a 2008 restructured agreement. In 1996, they entered into an agreement in which the CJHDevco would lease 246.9 hectares of the special economic zone and develop it.
BCDA is a government-owned and -controlled corporation.
Until today, more than three years after the restructured deal took effect, the BCDA board refused to issue permits, licenses and certificates, “hampering” the corporation’s operations, Ubarra said in a 23-page complaint at the Ombudsman.
“We’ve had enough, that’s why today we’re filing the case against members of the board,” said lawyer Frank Chavez, legal counsel of CJHDevco.
Ubarra said BCDA refused to issue permits because its objective was to take over CJHDevco. “It was a contract conceived in grace, but born in sin,” Ubarra said.
Charged were Arnel Paciano Casanova, BCDA president and CEO; Felicito Payumo, BCDA chair of the board; and members of the board Zorayda Amelia Alonzo, Teresita Desierto, Ma. Aurora Geotina-Garcia, Ferdinand Golez, Elmar Golez and Maximo Sangil.
They were charged with violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and Civil Service Decree of the Philippines.
Casanova said the suit, like two other criminal cases filed against his agency in June, has been filed “to harass and intimidate us from aggressively asserting the rights of the government to collect P3 billion in [CJHDevco] arrears.”
BCDA and CJHDevco have been waging a public feud since last year over the developer’s decision to stop payments, rescind a 2008 restructured lease agreement and pursue arbitration.
The developer had asked a Baguio court for a ruling that would compel BCDA to submit to mediation, after securing a temporary injunction that prohibits any government takeover of the former American rest and recreation center.
But on May 15, the BCDA board voted to terminate the CJHDevco lease. The termination and eviction notice was issued to CJHDevco here on May 16. With Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon