The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) recently won back Camp John Hay from developer CJH Development Corp. (CJHDevco), as per a court decision.
The developer has reneged on lease rentals and its arrears have ballooned to over P3.4 billion, a quarter of which -- at P850 million -- was due to the local governments of Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay.
An arbitration tribunal issued that "[t]he claimant (CJHDevco) is ordered to vacate the leased premises and promptly deliver the leased property, inclusive of all new constructions and permanent improvements introduced during the term of the lease as reckoned from the execution of the original lease agreement to respondent in good and tenantable condition in all respects, reasonable wear and tear excepted."
Measuring 690 hectares, Camp John Hay is a major tourist attraction in Baguio City, home to an array of modern amenities, retail options, restaurants, hotels, inns, historical sites, and outdoor pastimes like trekking, ziplines, and horseback-riding. It was formerly a rest and relaxation (R&R) base for the US military. It was turned over to the Philippine government in 1991.
BCDA, a state-run instrumentality that converts former bases for civilian use, has leased the camp to CJHDevco until it terminated the agreement in May of 2012 on grounds of the developer defaulting on payments and other obligations.
"Finally [Camp John Hay] will be returned and we can now develop it for the benefit of the public," said Arnel Casanova, president and CEO of BCDA. Casanova called the court decision a "victory for the government."
But there's more work to be done: according to Casanova, the BCDA is set on pursuing the developer's debt to BCDA.
"While we see this as a breakthrough, we are duty bound to pursue our monetary claims because 25 percent of our earnings from Camp John Hay is meant for its stakeholders," Casanova stated.
Furthermore, locators within the camp will have to work with the BCDA to ensure the continued development of the property.
"The right of locators emanates from their original lease agreement with CJHDevco, whose right to operate Camp John Hay was rescinded, so the locators’ right was also put into question. They [locators] need to coordinate with BCDA," said Casanova in a press briefing on Friday.
According to Casanova, the BCDA is set to perform a complete physical and legal audit of the camp's facilities upon taking over.
"We want to ensure the security in Camp John Hay and prevent sabotage, pilferage and the destruction of property,” Casanova said.