BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan wants President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to implement a top to bottom revamp in the leadership of the State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and its subsidiaries in the former American military basis in the different parts of the country to prevent the possibility of mismanagement similar to what happened in the 247-hectare John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ) where BCDA committed major breaches that resulted to the mutual restitution of the lease agreement.
The local chief executive cited BCDA president and chief executive officer Arnel Casanova and John Hay Management Committee (JHMC) chairman Silvestre Afable, Jr. had been issuing statements that the State corporation will not recognize the validity of the 19 conditions earlier imposed by the city government to pave the way for the development of John Hay once it will be able to take over the facilities being operated by the private developer, the Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo).
“We cannot afford to deal with BCDA officials who are close-minded and who refuse to recognize earlier commitments of the national government to the city. The best thing to do with the current situation is for the Palace to implement a top to bottom revamp of the BCDA leadership,” Domogan stressed.
Earlier, Casanova said BCDA is not bounded by the 19 conditions imposed by the city for the development of the former American military base as enshrined under Resolution No. 362, series of 1994 because what governs BCDA’s existence is Republic Act (RA) 7227 or the law that established the BCDA to operate and manage former American military bases in the different parts of the country.
However, Domogan argued while it is true that the 19 conditions imposed by the city for the development of John Hay is a local legislation, former BCDA officials recognized the same prior to the public bidding of the operation of the special economic zone in 1996 which was won by the Villar-owned Manuela with a bid of P1.6 billion annual lease rental of the facility.
Subsequently, Manuela backed out of the deal prior to the signing of the agreement after having discovered impracticalities in the operation of the facility and BCDA was constrained to award the John Hay development project to Fil-Estate Penta Capital consortium that placed second with a bid of P425 million annual lease rental.
Domogan cited it is unfair for BCDA and JHMC officials to conclude that the city government never extended assistance to them in their fight to dislodge the developer for unpaid lease rentals, saying that sometime in 2011, former Rep. Bernardo M. Vergara initiated a congressional inquiry deliberate on the possible auditing of the violations of both parties to the original and revised lease agreements to possibly amicable settle the problem but BCDA abandoned the negotiations.
According to him, the original and revised lease agreements where the city government stands to benefit with a 25 percent share from the annual lease rentals could have been saved if BCDA officials were open-minded, sincere and man enough to face their counterparts and discuss who among the parties have the greater number of breaches of the agreement and convert the same into amounts which could be deducted from the annual lease rental to be paid by the developer to the government.
It can be recalled that the city’s Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 6 recently confirmed the 280-page decision of the Makati-based Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. (PDRCI) for the mutual restitution of the original and revised lease agreements governing the operation and administration of the 247-hectare JHSEZ.
Part of the decision of Judge Corazon Dulay-Archog was that CJHDevCo will turn over the leased area to the BCDA and in turn, BCDA will pay the developer a total of P1.42 billion in accumulated lease rentals that it paid to the government since 1996.
Domogan disclosed based on the arbitral tribunal decision, BCDA committed the gravest breach after it failed to fulfil its commitment to establish the One-Stop Action Center (OSAC) and provide the developer with the required permits within a 30-day grace period.
The city mayor cited the local government is currently weighing its legal options on how to deal with the matter so that the city government will not be left hanging in the dark once the facilities will already be taken over by BCDA and if it continues to defy the 19 conditions of the city for the development of the former American rest and recreation center.
He said the local government is also assessing the possibility of invoking condition No. 16 of Resolution No. 362 which provides that upon the expiration of the lease agreement, all improvements within the special economic zone shall be turned over to the city government.
By Dexter A. See