• Malversation raps vs. Sobrepeña lauded

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    The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) lauded the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file malversation charges against officials of the Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevCo), led by its Chairman and Chief Executive Robert John Sobrepeña, for refusing to account for the 26 BCDA-owned hotel units located in Camp John Hay Manor and Camp John Hay Suites, Baguio City and retaining the earnings generated from its operations.

    In a resolution dated April 1, 2013, the Justice Department said, “In the instant case, respondents’ delayed remittance of the rental income of BCDA despite repeated demands did not extinguish their criminal liability for malversation of public funds. Again, it should be noted that the respondents did not provide any sufficient explanation for the said remittance. Thus, they are presumed to have malversed the rents due to BCDA for the period mentioned above under leaseback agreement.”

    “This is a victory for the country under the President’s leadership and his ‘Daang Matuwid’ policy. We welcome the decision of the DOJ, which is a first step in getting back and recovering what is rightfully government property and revenues,” BCDA President Arnel Paciano Casanova said in a statement on Thursday.

    Other CJHDevCo officials to be charged of malversation are Ferdinand Santos, Alfredo Yñiguez 3rd, and Emily Roces-Falco.

    On August 15, 2012, the BCDA filed before the DOJ 52 counts of malversation against the Board of Directors and officials of CJHDevCo and its subsidiary, Camp John Hay Hotel Corp. (CJH Hotels).

    The 22-page complaint stated that, the CJHDevCo directors and officers, even after the lawful demand of the BCDA, refused to return the public properties to the government.

    These properties are 16 units of the CJH Manor Hotel and 10 units of the CJH Suites Hotel which have a total value of P121 Million. The hotel units were payments in kind or dacion en pago made to BCDA in 2008, as partial settlement of CJHDevCo’s unpaid rental obligations.

    The complaint further stated that, CJHDevCo continues to earn from these units but refused to provide the liquidation of public funds—revenues that it earned from the use and lease of the 26 units.

    “We want to make unscrupulous businesses accountable for their actions,” Casanova stressed.

    “The era of using political connections for business gain is over. This ushers an era of ethical business based on a level playing field that will open opportunities for businesses that practice good governance and transparency,” he added.

    Casanova also sees the filing of the charges as welcome news for all law-abiding businesses.

    Besides the 26 units, CJHDevCo also owes the BCDA over P3 billion in lease payments in the John Hay Special Economic Zones.

    Raadee S. Sausa

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