John Hay firm says it offered ‘remedies’
Lawyer Frank Chavez says top BCDA exec courting disbarment casePhilippine Daily Inquirer
BAGUIO CITY—A joint venture offer in May to save the Camp John Hay tourism estate project was meant to remedy the government’s failure to fulfill the lease agreement, officials of Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevco) said on Tuesday.
But this offer was rejected by the board of directors of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) on May 15 without allowing CJHDevco officials to present the proposal. On the same day, the BCDA terminated the lease agreement and directed CJHDevco to settle its P3-billion debt.
Alfredo Yñiguez III, CJHDevco chief operating officer and executive vice president, said the joint venture proposal would have opened up the project to a third-party investor, which would develop at least 10 hectares of Camp John Hay land that is covered by the lease agreement.
“Because of the government’s delays, we have only developed 20 percent of 18 hectares, which represents the area we are allowed to alter out of the 247-ha leased area, based on the John Hay master plan,” he said.
The offer would generate an additional P5.4 billion for the government, he said, on top of P500 million which CJHDevco was ready to pay the
BCDA to end a debt standoff that started in 2011.
Added to the settlement of a P2.6-billion debt, which CJHDevco agreed to pay in 2008 subject to conditions, the government would have earned P8.5 billion out of the project, Yñiguez said.
He said it was the same rationale which CJHDevco pursued when it was granted a 1999 rent deferment and had participated in three restructuring agreements since it was awarded the lease in 1996.
In a 2008 restructured memorandum of agreement (RMOA), Yñiguez said the firm agreed to acknowledge a P2.6-billion outstanding debt in exchange for warranty that its permits would be issued in 30 days by a One Stop Action Center (Osac). Osac failed to fulfill this, so CJHDevco rescinded the RMOA to pursue arbitration.
In a statement, Yñiguez said: “These [restructuring arrangements] were crafted to remedy the BCDA’s own defaults.”
In the same statement, CJHDevco lawyer Frank Chavez said BCDA president Arnel Casanova faces a disbarment case for claiming that the CJHDevco joint venture offer was intended to extend the lease contract instead of settling CJHDevco’s debt.
“A lawyer who insists that no offer to pay has been made to the government misquotes not only the letters embodying the offer but more importantly inflicts a lie on the public,” Chavez said in the statement.
But Casanova, in a text message, said: “Mr. Chavez should inform the public about the real nature of the proposal which is patently and grossly disadvantageous to the government.”
Chavez said Casanova needs to reexamine his lawyer’s oath which requires a lawyer “not to wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless false or unlawful suit or give aid nor consent to the same.”
The former chief state counsel quoted Canon 10.02 of the Code of Professional Ethics which states that, “A lawyer shall not knowingly misquote or misrepresent the contents of a paper or assert as a fact that which has not been proved.” Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon