SC ruling on John Hay rift awaited

BAGUIO CITY  – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said that concerned government agencies, the local government and the parties involved in the case are simply awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) on the current rift over the lease of the 247-hectare John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ) before any concrete action will be undertaken for whatever purpose.

The local chief executive admitted that there has been numerous talks being done by parties interested to takeover the development of the former American military rest and recreation center after the SC shall have ruled on the legality of the arbitral ruling rendered in the case of the State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and the Sobrepeña-owned Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo).

Further, he confirmed having talked with CJHDevCo chairman Robert John Sobrepeña who intimated to him that he is no longer interested to pursue the development of the JHSEZ considering that he already suffered too much from what has been done to him and his company by the previous BCDA authorities.

Earlier, the Makati-based Philippine Dispute Resolution Center (PDRC) ruled for the mutual restitution of the 50-year lease contract that was entered into by the BCDA and Fil-Estate Penta Capital Consortium for the development of the JHSEZ into a world-class tourism center and ordered to BCDA to refund to CJHDevCo the amount of P1.42 billion representing the remittances made by the developer to the government in the form of lease rentals and for the CJHDevCo to turnover to the BCDA the leased area in tenantable condition, including all improvements introduced therein.

The PDRC also ruled that the P3.4 billion being claimed by BCDA from the developer as accumulated rentals is without basis that rendered the local government at a loss over its supposed entitlement of 25 percent share from the agreed lease rentals of the JHSEZ.

BCDA appealed the arbitral ruling to the Court of Appeals (CA) but the latter upheld the PDRC decision and favoured the rights of the third party buyers over the lased area which the former again appealed to the SC and is now awaiting final ruling.

Domogan underscored that the local government was the primary loser in the long standing dispute because it lost the supposed nearly p1 billion share from the accumulated lease rentals of the developer over the declared economic zone which should have been used to bankroll the implementation of priority development programs and projects as well as enhance the delivery of basic services to the people in the city’s 128 barangays.

Under the lease contract between BCDA and the developer, the local government is entitled to a 25 share of the agreed lease amount of the special economic zone which will be released to the city by the BCDA in a periodic basis after the submission of the list of priority projects that will be funded from the said amount.

Domogan expressed optimism that the dispute will be ruled upon by the SC the soonest so that the BCDA could pursue negotiations with interested developers wanting to takeover and pursue the unfinished development of the JHSEZ to contribute in spurring the desired economic growth of the city.

By Dexter A. See

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