BCDA urged to heed court order on John Hay
Takeover threats persist despite arbitration rulePhilippine Daily Inquirer
BAGUIO CITY—A firm developing Camp John Hay appealed to the government agency with jurisdiction over former US military base lands to heed a court order that compels the company and government to submit to arbitration proceedings over a debt feud that has turned into a protracted war.
In a statement, the Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevCo) said Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) should not cease moves related to a takeover of John Hay, a former rest and recreation base of the US military, following a Baguio court ruling ordering the two parties in the John Hay conflict to submit to arbitration.
“BCDA, being a government agency, must now submit itself to the rule of law and refrain from taking further steps to take over or seize control of the leased premises from CJHDevCo,” said a statement issued by lawyer Manuel Ubarra Jr., CJHDevCo spokesperson.
In a nine-page order, Acting Presiding Judge Cecilia Corazon S. Dulay-Archog, of RTC Branch 6, granted CJHDevCo’s petition to compel BCDA to submit itself to arbitration proceeding initiated by CJHDevCo at the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center Inc.
The lower court rejected the argument of BCDA that it had the right to unilaterally terminate the lease contract of CJHDevCo. It reasoned that whatever infraction or breaches one party may claim against the other should first be brought to arbitration and not through extrajudicial rescission of the lease contract.
The RTC judge also affirmed an earlier injunction order against BCDA restraining the agency from taking over Camp John Hay which is being leased to CJHDevCo or from committing any act that tends to wrestle control or possession of leased premises subject to the filing of a bond by CJHDevCo.
BCDA head Arnel Paciano Casanova said in a text message yesterday that “there is nothing in the order that would prevent BCDA from exercising its right of terminating the [John Hay] lease.”
Archog’s ruling on July 13 gave CJHDevco 30 days from the time it received the decision to pay a bond.
“The court confirmed the arbitration clause in the lease agreement and never touched on the merits of the case,” Casanova said.
Ubarra said Casanova had rejected CJHDevCo’s lease rental offer without first looking at the firm’s proposal.
The CJHDevCo lawyer said the firm’s officials were invited to a meeting with the BCDA board by BCDA chair Felicito Payumo for a presentation but were prevented from entering the board meeting by Casanova.
The firm’s officials were carrying a proposal to pay up to P8.5 billion to BCDA over a period of time that would include months that BCDA failed to issue permits that CJHDevCo needed to operate fully.
This, Ubarra said, “merely demonstrates the undeserved prejudice and discrimination of the Board of BCDA against CJHDevCo.” With a report by Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon