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John Hay protagonists told to settle feud

/ 10:21 PM March 07, 2012

BAGUIO CITY—Top city officials have asked the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and the developer of Camp John Hay to stop waging war in media on their debt feud and settle their problem out of court.

Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas said the negative publicity generated by the suits and the press statements has hurt the city’s image as a healthy investment haven.

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Baguio Rep. Bernardo Vergara said he spoke to Arnel Casanova, BCDA president, on Sunday urging him to communicate with Fil Estate-owned Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevco) to negotiate a way out of the P3-billion debt impasse.

The feud has reached local courts because of fears raised by CJHDevco about a supposed government plan to take over the former American rest and recreation center, even after the developer pushed for arbitration. BCDA countered with a squatting case against the Fil Estate firm.

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The legal issues became public due to an exchange of press statements from both camps.

BCDA and CJHDevco are covered by a status quo order issued last week by Judge Mona Lisa Tabora of the Baguio Regional Trial Court while she studies CJHDevco’s appeal for a permanent restraining order against a government takeover.

Lawyer Demetrio Custodio Jr., the BCDA lead counsel, said government will heed the court’s status quo directive.

In a text message on Sunday, Alfredo Yñiguez III, CJHDevco executive vice president and chief operating officer, said he agrees with the Baguio government reaction to the feud.

“We are okay with settling this out of court if BCDA and the John Hay Management Corp.  will agree also,” he said. Yñiguez said a settlement “has to be mutual.”

He said BCDA has not yet responded to an arbitration offer, which CJHDevco brought to the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center Inc. in December 2011.

Casanova said BCDA is amenable to a settlement “as long as it is fair and equitable for the government.”

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In reply to criticisms over the media war, Casanova said: “We just want the public to know fully the facts of the case.”

“The solution is simply for CJHDevco to pay its obligations,” he said. Vincent Cabreza and Frank Cimatu, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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TAGS: Baguio City Rep. Bernardo Vergara, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Camp John Hay, Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas
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