P100-M libel suit filed by John Hay firm vs BCDAPhilippine Daily Inquirer
BAGUIO CITY—Businessman Robert John Sobrepeña, chair of Camp John Hay Development Corp., on Wednesday filed a P100-million libel suit against the president of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) at the Pasig City prosecutor’s office.
The lawsuit arose from statements issued by lawyer Arnel Paciano Casanova, BCDA president, which allegedly maligned Sobrepeña’s other firms and projects, said Alfredo Yñiguez III, CJHDevco executive vice president and chief operating officer.
CJHDevco, which Sobrepeña owns and chairs, has been engaged in a legal dispute with BCDA since 2011, after the firm rescinded a restructured lease agreement due to the government’s alleged breaches of contract. CJHDevco instead pursued arbitration.
On May 15, BCDA terminated CJHDevco’s lease contract that the firm assumed in 1996 after the winning bidder for John Hay’s development withdrew.
This is Casanova’s second libel case. On June 21, CJHDevco sued Casanova and the BCDA board of directors for libel at the Baguio Regional Trial Court, owing to government advertisements addressed to CJHDevco clients that said the BCDA had sued the Sobrepeña firm for fraud. The firm also asked the court to grant it P100 million in damages.
Casanova was in a meeting with Mayor Mauricio Domogan and the City Council when he learned of the complaint.
“CJHDevco will continue to file repetitive charges against me to prevent me from collecting P3 billion,” Casanova said by telephone on Thursday.
In the 31-page complaint for libel, Sobrepeña said the repeated use of his surname in allegedly defamatory articles from the
BCDA “leads to no other conclusion” than that there is a deliberate attempt to malign him.
“A perusal of the actual and true facts reveals that not only did respondents use malicious words to libel me, CJHDevco and its officers, respondents lied about the facts as well, thus showing their malice and bad faith,” said the CJHDevco head. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon