Court stops govt’s John Hay takeover

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The Court of Appeals (CA) on Friday halted government takeover of Camp John Hay in Baguio City pending payment of more than P1.4 billion to a private developer.

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In a ruling, the CA granted a petition for certiorari and prohibition  filed by the private developer, CJH Development Corp., which had sought to stop a lower court and the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) from implementing a writ of execution dated April 14, 2015 and a notice to vacate dated April 20, 2015 against the developer and third parties occupying the camp.

The writ and the notice cannot be enforced until CJH Development Corp. “is fully paid of the amount of P1,421,096,052 as indicated in [an]arbitral award” and for the  private developer to “promptly vacate and cease its operations on the leased premises upon payment of its claim in the [said]amount” with the Commission on Audit.

“However, in the interim, CJH Development Corp. shall not enter into new contracts with 3rd parties and/or perform any action that would contravene the tenor of the arbitral award before receipt of its payment,” the ruling stated.

The CA also ruled in favor of the third-party investors and intervenors including Camp John Hay Golf Club Inc., CAP-John Hay Trade and Cultural Center Inc., Creative Era Limited and Francor Inc.,  which had contested their eviction.

The BCDA was ordered “to respect and not to disturb the various contracts of the [t]hird [p]arties occupying the leased premises,” as well as “to assist in the processing of the claim of petitioner CJH Development Corp. filed with the Commission on Audit, [which]must act within 60 days, pursuant to existing laws.”

“These third parties invested their hard-earned money in the said buildings and improvements in good faith and acquired the same for value,” the appellate court said.

They “should not be held to bear the breaches and mistakes of [the private developer]and BCDA with respect to their respective obligations under the lease agreement,” it pointed out.

Ponente of the 67-page ruling was Associate Justice Noel Tijam, chairman of the CA’s Former Special 5th Division.

Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Myra Garcia-Fernandez and Victoria Isabel Paredes.

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