The state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) is preparing for the eventual return of Camp John Hay into government hands, urging investors to help it ensure a smooth transition.
“Ultimately, control of John Hay will revert to the government. It is best to prepare for this eventuality by working with investors to ensure that it will be business as usual inside John Hay. We do not want any disruption to the businesses inside,” BCDA President and Chief Executive Officer Arnel Casanova said on Monday.
The BCDA, the government agency mandated to develop the former rest-and-recreation facility of the US Armed Forces, terminated its lease agreement with CJH Development Corporation (CJHDevCo) over the 247-hectare Camp John Hay Economic Zone in May 2012.
BCDA claimed CJHDevCo failed to perform its obligations and defaulted on its lease payments even after three restructurings. The case is now under arbitration.
The BCDA had been unable to reach out to investors because of a preliminary injunction sought by CJHDevCo. The injunction was lifted when the Court of Appeals issued a decision on September 30 this year declaring the injunction void.
The Court of Appeals injunction reads: “Petitioner [BCDA] asserts that CJH DevCo has not established a clear right and irreparable injury for the grant of preliminary injunction.
Petitioner asserts that under the agreement, it has the right to enforce the same considering that CJHDevCo has been in breach of their agreement and since BCDA is a government entity, it is the public that suffer for the failure of CJHDevCo to fulfill its obligations. We agree with petitioner [BCDA].”
In 1992, the following year after the property was turned over by the US to the Philippine government when the Philippines-US Bases Agreement expired, Republic Act 7227 conveyed stewardship of Camp John Hay to the BCDA to facilitate its conversion into the country’s premier eco-tourist destination.
Through Presidential Proclamation 420 in 1994, 301.86 hectares of the 695-hectare Camp was designated as the John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ).
Since 1997 a large part of the property has been in the hands of a private developer on a long-term lease, running private vacation houses, hotels and lodging facilities.
“The priority is to ensure the continuity of business to preserve jobs and protect investments. We are making the necessary preparations to ensure a smooth transition,” Casanova said.
The BCDA is fully committed to the development of Camp John Hay, adding that its priority now is to ensure the continuity of business, the protection of investors and the protection of jobs inside John Hay, Casanova added.