BAGUIO CITY (April 15, 2024)

Malacanang hailed the Supreme Court’s favorable decision in the legal dispute between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and private developer Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo). “The BCDA will meet with stakeholders to map out the next plan of action following the ruling of the High Court,” Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin said in a statement Monday. The BCDA earlier said, this development will enable the state agency “to recover the 247-hectare property in the John Hay Special Economic Zone and utilize it for the interest of the government and of the Filipino people.”

Both the BCDA and the John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC) have welcomed the ruling that allows the BCDA and JHMC to recover the 247-hectare property in John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ) and utilize it for the full interest and benefit of the government and of the Filipino people, Leilani Barlongan-Macasaet, BCDA Vice President for Public Affairs said in a statement Thursday. The SC en banc, through Justice Japar B. Dimaampao, middle of last week upheld a decision from the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. (PDRCI) that found CJH DevCo and BCDA to have breached their obligations under their agreement.

The decision ordered “mutual restitution where parties revert to their original position prior to the execution of the agreement as far as practicable.” The SC also ruled that CJH DevCo should return the leased property with the improvements to BCDA, though the latter should refund rentals reaching more than P1.4B paid by the private developer. The SC further ruled that the Commission on Audit did not commit “grave abuse of discretion” when it dismissed CJH DevCo’s money claim “pending resolution of the BCDA petition before the court.”

Though not officially speaking in behalf of CJH DevCo,  lawyer Federico Mandapat Jr. said the private developer has not officially received a copy of the ruling, impeding it to make an official comment (on the ruling). Though offering his personal opinion however,  Atty. Mandapat said, as soon as an official copy of the ruling is received, “a motion for reconsideration might be filed on behalf of the stakeholders who personally used their own funds not CJH DevCo’s, to construct their respective buildings after leasing the lot from CJH DevCo.”  In short, he added, “they are lessees and builders in good faith and in line with the Bill of rights of the Constitution, no person shall be deprived of live, liberty or property without due process of law.”

Atty. Mandapat Jr. further pointed out that, “(lessees) were not parties to the case, therefore thy should not be affected by the decision involving CJH DevCo and BCDA only.” As far as CJH DevCo is concerned, Atty. Mandapat said, “they should abide by the PDRCI ruling,” though pointing out, “the problem however is, the SC struck down the CA decision as the appeal to the CA was premature as it was filed without waiting for a ruling on the motion for reconsideration of the lower court.”

By: Artemio A. Dumlao

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