John Hay firm seeks P100M in damages in libel vs BCDA
BAGUIO CITY—The developer of Camp John Hay on Tuesday filed a P100-million libel suit against the board of directors of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) for a newspaper advertisement addressed to its clients on April 10 that called attention to the company’s alleged “questionable business practices.”
The suit was addressed to BCDA Chair Felicito Payumo, the agency’s president, Arnel Paciano Casanova, and board directors, Zorayda Amelia Alonzo, Teresita Desierto, Ma. Aurora Geotina-Garcia, Ferdinand Golez, Elmar Gomez and Maximo Sangil.
Former Solicitor General Frank Chavez, one of CJHDevco’s lawyers, said the P100-million damage claim was “not enough to compensate for the damage done [to CJHDevco].”
“We draw the line for the oppression inflicted on CHJDevco,” said a statement issued by the company quoting Chavez.
“This is a day of reckoning,” he said.
Since December 2011, CJHDevco and the BCDA have waged a public dispute over contractual violations dating back to 1996 in the course of converting the former American rest and recreation baseland into a tourism complex.
Speaking at a news conference, Chavez said the BCDA’s advertisement and news releases also smeared the reputation of other firms run by businessman Robert John Sobrepeña, CJHDevco chair.
The libel complaint said the articles and advertisement “reveal the fiendish attempt [of the BCDA] to condition the minds of the public.”
The BCDA’s two-page advertisement, published by other Metro Manila newspapers in April, informed investors that their contracts with CJHDevco should not last beyond Oct. 18, 2021.
“The BCDA’s own records … clearly show that it has tacitly acknowledged that the lease shall be effective ‘until Oct. 7, 2046’ [according to the] Limited Warranty Deed issued in its favor over log homes in Camp John Hay, units at The Manor [and] units at The Suites,” the complaint said.
The advertisement also informed CJHDevco clients that the BCDA had filed a fraud case in March against Sobrepeña and CJHDevco’s top officials for “deliberately and fraudulently” withholding the fact that a luxury log home it gave up in 2008 to settle its debts had been sold to a previous buyer, Wilson Sy.
On June 14, CJHDevco filed a perjury case against Casanova for pursuing the fraud case using a false premise.
The company cited a May affidavit by Sy, who said that he had demanded a refund of his P20-million initial payment for John Hay Log Home No. 9 because he had lost interest in the property.
The perjury and libel complaints were filed by lawyer Manuel Ubarra Jr., CJHDevco vice president for litigation.
“Members of the reading public … are being induced to coordinate with the BCDA supposedly to protect their rights as it is implied that failure to do so might lead to the loss of their investments due to CJHDevco’s purported questionable practices,” said the libel complaint.
Alfredo Yñiguez III, CJHDevco executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the company has been unable to market its luxury homes and hotel units because of the advertisement. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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