State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) lauded the recent decision of the Supreme Court (SC) to uphold an earlier ruling by the Court of Appeals (CA) to cancel ownership of the Navy Officers’ Village Association Inc. (NOVAI) on a posh 47-hectare parcel of land at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.
The SC decision will ultimately benefit the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the agency said.
BCDA President and Chief Executive Officer Arnel Paciano Casanova said in a statement that by recovering the NOVAI land, the government will now be able to pursue plans to further strengthen BCDA’s role in improving the country’s defense capabilities and internal security.
The NOVAI is a group of retired military officers claiming ownership of the disputed property inside the former Fort Bonifacio Military Reservation (FBMR).
“The high tribunal has spoken, and justice is served,” Casanova said. “This is a clear message that no one is above the law, including usurpers and land grabbers from the ranks of retired military generals.”
The BCDA is the agency created under Republic Act (RA) 7227, specifically to own and administer military reservations, including those located inside the FBMR.
The 475,009 square-meter parcel of land is now estimated to be worth more than P47 billion, based on the current selling price of about P100,000 per square-meter.
BCDA remittances help fund the national government’s development projects, including the modernization of the AFP to improve the country’s internal security and external defense.
From January 2010 to May 2015, BCDA remitted P14.7 billion to the Bureau of Treasury and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
The AFP’s share from these remittances from January 2010 to May 2015 totals P6.7 billion.
The BCDA earlier petitioned that NOVAI be prohibited to acquire the said property, being an inalienable land of public domain at that time.
The agency said, “Any sale of land in violation of the Constitution or of the provisions of RA 274 and RA 730, and the Public Land Act, is null and void. Any title, which may have been issued by mistake or error on the part of a public official, can be cancelled at any time by the state.”
In the Notice of Judgment promulgated on August 3 by acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo, Jose Catral Mendoza, and Marvic Leonen, the SC Second Division resolved “to deny NOVAl’s petition for review on certiorari, as we find no reversible error committed by the CA in issuing its December 28, 2006 decision and March 28, 2007 resolution.”
On August 20, 2004, the CA reversed and set aside the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 67, Pasig City, which dismissed the complaint filed by the government against NOVAI.
The CA ruled that the property claimed by NOVAI “is inalienable land of the public domain and cannot be disposed of or be the subject of a sale” and emphasized that the property remained reserved for the military veterans’ rehabilitation purposes under Proclamation 478, the latest executive issuance affecting the property.
By developing former military camps, BCDA’s revenues under Casanova steadily increased from P3.5 billion in 2011 to P11.8 billion in 2015, while BCDA’s dividend contributions to the national government rose from P2.1 billion to P3.2 billion from 2011 to 2015.