By Louella D. Desiderio (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 6, 2015 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Sobrepeña-led Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevCo.) may face a class suit from sub-lessees of Camp John Hay if it fails to return their investment, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) said.
BCDA president and chief executive officer Arnel Paciano Casanova said in a statement this is the mostly likely scenario if CJHDevCo. would not reimburse the sub-lessees for the unused portion of their contract.
In February, the arbitration committee under the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center Inc. (PDRCI) ordered CJHDevCo. to vacate the Camp John Hay and return the leased property, inclusive of all new constructions and permanent improvements to the BCDA.
The BCDA, meanwhile, has been asked to return to CJHDevCo. lease payments worth P1.42 billion.
The PDRCI issued the decision following arbitration proceedings ordered by the Baguio Regional Trial Court as the BCDA decided to terminate its lease agreement with CJHDevCo. for avoiding payment of obligations to the government.
While the lease agreement signed for a portion of John Hay Special Economic Zone by the two parties in 1996 was for 25 years, CJHDevCo. sold 50-year leases to sub-lessees.
Peter Paul Andrew Flores, head for legal services at BCDA said the PDRCI’s order is binding and covers CJHDevCo.’s subleases.
Contrary to claims of CJHDevCo. that the subleases should be honored by the BCDA, he said the state-run firm is not privy to these contracts.
The BCDA through the John Hay Management Corp. (JHMC) has requested copies of all contracts and other relevant documents related to the development of all residential homes, estates and condotels within the leased area from CJHDevCo. since 2011 but the firm has refused to provide these documents.
As CJHDevCo. concealed the contracts of subleases of Camp John Hay to JHMC and BCDA, it is liable to the sub-lessees.
To help protect the rights and interests of Camp John Hay’s sub-lessees, the BCDA has set up a help desk which can provide legal counsel.
“The last thing we want to happen is for their contracts to be a worthless piece of paper like what happened with the College Assurance Plan (CAP),” Casanova said.
CJHDevCo. is chaired by Robert John Sobrepeña, who also owns and manages pre-need company CAP and Metro Rail Transit Development Corp.
Created by Republic Act 7227, the BCDA’s mandate is to turn former US military bases into alternative productive civilian use.