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Camp John Hay developer files P100-M libel suit vs BCDA execs

Written by  Benjamin B. Pulta
Thursday, 21 June 2012 00:00 [ tribune.net.ph ]

A libel suit for P100 million in damages has been filed by the developer of Camp John Hay before the Baguio City Prosecutor’s Office against officials of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), in connection with an advertisement placed by the latter.

In his complaint, Manuel Ubarra Jr., vice president for litigation of the Camp John Hay Development Corporation

(CJHDevCo), accused the Board of Directors of BCDA, namely, Arnel Paciano Casanova, president and chief executive officer of BCDA, Felicito Payumo, Zorayda Amelia Alonzo, Teresita Desierto, Ma. Aurora Geotina Garia, Ferdinand Golez, Elmar Gomez and Maximo Sangil of committing the crime of libel when it maligned the reputation of CJHDevCo when it caused the publication of a libelous advertisement.

Former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez, who served as counsel and accompanied Ubarra in filing the complaint, explained the decision to charge the BCDA officials.

“We draw the line for the oppression inflicted on CHJDevCo. This is a day of reckoning. We are seeking redress for their acts which cause dishonor, discredits and cause infamy to the officers of CHJDevCo. That is why we are filing this,” Chavez said.

“We have shown the many instances when we have clearly maligned.” he added.

The CJHDevCo accused the directors of “deliberately, maliciously, knowingly and publicly imputed against CJHDevCo and its corporate officers, in a two-page advertisement, crimes, acts and omissions, and which malicious and public imputation has caused dishonor, discredit and contempt upon the reputation of CJHDevCo and its corporate officers.”

“Clearly, the honor and reputation of CJHDevCo and its officers have been deliberately, wantonly and fraudulently tarnished by BCDA’s malicious advertisement, done through its Board of Directors,” the complainant stressed.

While CJHDevCo, through its concerned officers, has appropriately addressed the charges leveled against them by BCDA officials,” the damage and injury sustained, and continues to be sustained, by CJHDevCo as a result thereof are material and immeasurable,” the complaint stated.

“As it is, as a direct result of the malicious and defamatory publication herein complained of, complainant CHJDevCo suffered damage and injury to its goodwill and reputation which damage and injury, if quantified in terms of money, would amount to no less than Pesos: One Hundred Million (P100,000,000), Philippine currency,” it said.

Last week, a complaint for perjury had been filed by CJHDevCo before the Manila Prosecutor’s Office against Casanova for misrepresenting facts in connection with a pending estafa complaint before prosecutors.

A portion of the ad said: “The government, through the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), wishes to inform unit owners of the Manor Hotel, Suites Hotel, Log Homes, Cottages and other properties in Camp John Hay, Baguio City, that: BCDA filed a criminal case for estafa (swindling) against Robert John Sobrepena (sic) and other officers of the Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevCo) for the double sale of a log home in Camp John Hay.”

The first sale of the log home, initially bought by a certain Wilson Sy, was subsequently rescinded by Sy and is the basis of the perjury complaint filed against Casanova whom CJHDevCo’s officers said could not have not known that there was no double sale when he initiated the complaint against CJHDevCo.

The libelous ad also said the “property was given by CJHDevCo as payment-in-kind to BCDA as part of the settlement of its debt which now totals P2.9 billion. CJHDevCo deliberately and fraudulently withheld from BCDA the fact that it had previously sold the property to another party.

“The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) issued a notice of violation to CJHDevCo after it discovered that the lessee has been selling and advertising CJH Suites without securing the required permits,” BCDA claimed in the slanderous ad.

Ubarra said the BCDA, through its Board of Directors, caused the publication of articles calculated to induce in the minds of the reading public a belief that CJHDevCo and its officers engage in fraudulent business practices.

The reports quoted Casanova as claiming “CJHDevCo has violated several laws while operating in the JHSEZ, including the non-filing of audited financial statement with the SEC since 2002.”
Last week, Ubarra also filed a complaint for perjury against the BCDA president and COO before the Office of the City Prosecutor in Manila.

Ubarra charged Casanova with allegedly committing the crime of perjury, which is punishable under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code when the BCDA official wrongly accused CJHDevCo officials of using false pretenses to deceive and induced the agency to enter into a “dacion en pago” agreement on May 27, 2011, in order to settle its outstanding obligation with BCDA.
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