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BCDA refuses arbitration of Camp John Hay row

Written by  Tribune
Friday, 24 August 2012 00:00 [ tribune.net.ph ]

The Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJH DevCo) has filed an injunction bond amounting to more than P736 million with the Regional Trial Court Branch 6 of Baguio City in fulfillment of the bond requirement attached to the writ of preliminary injunction that the RTC issued against the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) last April.

Judge Cleto Villacorta III of the Baguio RTC granted the CJH DevCo a writ of preliminary injunction last April 27 to prevent the BCDA from forcibly ousting the CJH Devco from the 247-hectare former American rest-and-recreation base that it had leased to the  private developer. “With my findings of a clear and legal right against a unilateral takeover and of grave and irreparable injury arising from such an improvident act at this time, I am compelled to grant the application for a writ of preliminary injunction,” Villacorta’s ruling said. The restraining order also prohibited the BCDA from awarding the disputed leased property to a new entity.

The bond was issued by surety Liberty Insurance Corp., the only bonding company now with Supreme Court certification of accreditation and authority. The injunction bond was filed with the RTC Branch 6 on Aug. 23 before Judge Cecilia Archog.

CJH DevCo executive vice president Al Yñiguez said the filing of the bond was done to show CJH DevCo’s good faith in the court. “Our corporation is a firm believer in the rule of law. We have survived many administrations because we adhere to this principle. We believe that ultimately, the government and the courts will see that CJH DevCo has complied with all requirements due. The fact that BCDA has already been ordered by the court to submit to arbitration is proof of this,” Yñiguez said.

In January, CJH DevCo filed an arbitration case before the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center (PDRCI), as required by its contract, due to the BCDA’s constant and continuous violation of the deal, such as its failure to create a One-Stop Action Center for the processing of permits for CJH DevCo. However, instead of complying with the arbitration clause, the BCDA refused to submit itself to the PDRCI and instead engaged in a costly public-relations war that included numerous full page advertisements directed against CJHDevco. This prompted the latter to file a petition before the Baguio court to compel the BCDA to submit to arbitration. The Baguio RTC in July ruled in favor of CJH DevCo, compelling the BCDA to submit to the arbitration process, but the BCDA has not complied.

Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan has also urged the BCDA to submit to arbitration in order for developments in Camp John Hay to continue. “Instead of arbitrarily pushing for the collection of fees, BCDA must submit itself to arbitration with CJH Devco at the PDRCI, as stipulated in their contract,” Domogan said in an earlier statement. Baguio City was entitled to 25 percent of the lease rentals that CJH DevCo pays to the BCDA for the development of Camp John Hay. Baguio City has been deprived of lease rentals due to the refusal of the BCDA to arbitrate.
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