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Baguio seeks to prevent losses as BCDA assailed

/ 01:38 AM February 27, 2015

BAGUIO CITY—The city government is studying the passage of an ordinance that would compel the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to make the city a party to future deals involving the development of Camp John Hay.

The city government stands to lose revenue as a result of the ruling by an arbitration court on a lingering dispute between BCDA and John Hay’s private developer, Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevco).

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At the House of Representatives, a party-list legislator took up the cudgels for Baguio City, accusing the BCDA leadership of mishandling its contracts with private companies, resulting in a decline in revenue for the city and other recipients of BCDA income that are listed by a law allowing the conversion of military lands and setting up the BCDA.

In a privilege speech, Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz (Abakada) said the leadership of BCDA had displayed arrogance that led to a decline in revenue meant for the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization program and other recipients of income from former military lands, including Baguio City.

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In his speech, Dela Cruz said the John Hay development project, under the government’s private-public partnership program, has “gone haywire resulting from the misguided, misplaced and high-handed management style of the current BCDA leadership.”

He said the arbitration court’s decision to turn over Camp John Hay to BCDA “orphaned” the AFP modernization program and the city of Baguio.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, sponsor of a resolution that set 19 conditions for the city government to support John Hay development, said the city government should be able to collect the 25 percent share it is entitled to from commercial operations in John Hay, a former US rest and recreation base.

The current developer, CJHDevco, had been directed by the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center Inc. to return 247 hectares of John Hay to BCDA and for BCDA to pay CJHDevco at least P1.4 billion.

“We need to receive our shares [from the Camp John Hay operations]. We don’t care how this is done for as long as John Hay’s administrator continues to abide by its obligations to Baguio,” said Tabanda, a lawyer.

Businessman Robert Sobrepeña, owner of CJHDevco, said the city would not be “left a complete loss.”

“There are assets [which would be surrendered to BCDA] that would be quantified as rental paid to BCDA,” Sobrepeña said.

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He said Baguio should be entitled to 25 percent of these assets. The 19 conditions set by the city government entitle it to all facilities until 2047 when contracts for hotels, log homes and other facilities expire.

In his speech Dela Cruz said the apparent obsession by the BCDA leadership to remove CJHDevco from John Hay had led to uncertainty for investors, employees in John Hay and the city of Baguio.

Dela Cruz said he would ask the House to investigate the BCDA leadership. With report by Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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TAGS: Bases Conversion and Development Authority, Camp John Hay Development Corp., News, Regions
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