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Baguio plans to take over John Hay amid gov't, firm feud.

BAGUIO CITY -- The city government plans to take over the developed areas in Camp John Hay here, the subject of a business feud between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and the Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevco), officials said on Friday.

The city government intends to exercise Condition 16 of Baguio City Resolution No. 364, which entitles Baguio to all of the improved pieces of property inside Camp John Hay once the 1996 lease development contract to turn it into a tourism estate ends, said Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda.

Resolution 364 enumerates 19 conditions set by the Baguio community during consultations, in exchange for the city's endorsement of Camp John Hay's privatization.

The 1996 lease agreement was dissolved in a Feb. 11 arbitral ruling by a Philippine Dispute Resolution Center (PDRC) tribunal to resolve a contractual dispute between BCDA and CJHDevco.

On Friday, Tabanda informed lawyer Arnel Casanova, BCDA president, about the city government plan at the end of a three-hour special session initiated by the city council to discuss the impact of the PDRC ruling on Baguio.

The ruling stated that feuding parties had violated the lease agreement and the only remedy was to nullify the contract and bring the conditions of the business arrangement back to a period before the 1996 agreement was executed.

The PDRC tribunal said BCDA had to reimburse CJHDevco P1.42 billion of its expenses while the CJHDevco had to return the leased area to the government.

Among the pieces of property that CJHDevco will relinquish are two major hotels.

Last week, lawyer Melchor Rabanes, city legal officer, said the consensus among city government lawyers was that the termination of the lease agreement meant the city could take possession of the developed areas of Camp John Hay.

Condition 16 of Resolution 364 states: The BCDA shall effect the transfer and ownership of the land and its built-up and improved structures within the zone from the BCDA to the Baguio City government upon the expiration of the land lease agreement between the BCDA and its designated developer, in accordance with the policy and procedures provided by law.

In earlier interviews, Alfredo Yniguez III, CJHDevco executive vice president and chief operating officer, said only 18 hectares of the 240-hectare leased area are open for development.

He said CJHDevco improved 4 hectares of the property, representing 25 percent of the 18 hectares, due to delays and other encumbrances.

At Friday's council session, Casanova assured the officials that BCDA would honor Resolution 364 for as long as it did not conflict with the laws governing BCDA.

Tabanda, who sponsored Resolution 364, asked if Casanova also recognized Condition 16. Would you recommend or join us if we ask the president [to fulfill this condition]? she pressed Casanova.

Casanova answered: The law on transfer of public lands does not rest on the BCDA. It has to be approved by the President. So I cannot make a commitment here which is beyond my powers.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jul 12, 2015
Words:495
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