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BCDA sues Sobrepeñas for squatting

Posted on February 23, 2012 09:35:14 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

A GOVERNMENT agency has reportedly sued the Sobrepeñas camp and other officials behind two firms that have been leasing state-owned land Baguio for alleged squatting.

A criminal case against Robert John L. Sobrepeña and Enrique A. Sobrepeña, Jr. along with several other officers of Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevco) and Warbird Security and Investigation was filed yesterday with the Justice department for a claimed violation of the 1992 Urban Development Housing Act.

BCDA claims that the Sobrepeña-led firms were illegally occupying around 600 square meters of land within the ecozone by putting up four structures near the Sewerage Treatment Plant 6 without the consent of BCDA as the property owner.

The lawsuit comes as CJHDevco is said to have failed to pay back some P3 billion in debt to BCDA for the lease of the 247-hectare John Hay Special Economic Zone in Baguio City.

Three structures were said to have housed Warbird’s employed guards and their families while the fourth structure served as the security company’s kennel for its canine unit and farmhouse for roosters.

“This is professional squatting. The Sobrepeña group has unlawfully erected structures on BCDA property despite the fact that it has substantial income and can afford to provide legitimate housing for its employees.” Arnel Paciano D. Casanova, BCDA president and chief executive, said in a statement.

The state-run firm said it demolished the structures after sending warnings.

CJHDevco offiicals were not immediately available for comment. Earlier, they had argued that a contract restructuring their debt to the BCDA should be voided after the state agency allegedly failed to fulfill its commitment to create a one-stop action center that would provide permits to ecozone locators that would have paid rent.

The BCDA, however, said that the office it set up has actually been issuing around 80 permits each year to CJHDevCo.

Other case respondents include CJHDevco chief operating officer (COO) Alfredo Yniguez, Warbird president and COO Jose Montoya, and Warbird chairman Edwardo Matillano.

CJHDevco is managed by Fil-Estate Management, Inc., a joint venture of Bank of Commerce in trust for College Assurance Plan Philippines, Inc., CAP Annuity Plans & Pension Corp. and Northwood Resources Corp. -- E. J. Diaz
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