Wednesday, June 08, 2005

BCDA, CJHDevCo urged to settle row

By Marianne V. Go
The Philippine Star 06/08/2005

"Sit down and talk!"

This was the advice of various quarters in Baguio City amidst the ongoing media war between the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and the Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevCo) over the alleged breach of contract following a recent Supreme Court decision nullifying the John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ) tax and duty free incentives extended under the lease contract.

Rep. Mauricio Domogan, the lone representative of Baguio City, expressed his anxiety over the prolonged media scuffle between CJHDevCo and BCDA.

Domogan has vowed to help the Baguio City government in its effort to bring BCDA and CJHDevCo to the negotiating table. "The last thing we need is a government takeover. Not only is such takeover a legal issue, but also we know the track record of the government when they took over John Hay in the past," Domogan said.

The City Council of Baguio, likewise, urged the government through BCDA-John Hay Management Corp. to sit down with CJHDevCo to settle their differences amicably for the sake of the people of the Baguio who stand to be most affected.

Sub-locators, concessionaires and sub-lessees in Camp John Hay Project lamented that instead of slugging it out in the papers, BCDA-JHMC and CJHDevCo should find a common ground so that innocent third parties are not caught in the crossfire and become unwilling casualties.

"In the interest of the people of Baguio and the local tourism industry, both government (BCDA) and the developer should find a solution to their issues as soon as possible. It is not only the future of the people of Baguio at stake here but the larger picture which is the privatization program of the government," Domogan said.

Domogan was then the mayor of Baguio City when the lease agreement between CJHDevCo and BCDA was signed.

Baguio Councilor Jose Molintas urged the BCDA and CJHDevCo to sit down and discuss the alleged violations committed by each camp.

Molintas pleaded that "it is the city that is put at a disadvantage. If each camp insists on what they want, the case might drag on longer."

Aurora Dangpa, a small vendor in Camp John Hay, appealed "we hope they (BCDA and CJHDevCo) talk so that they can settle their differences. We are caught in the middle. Instead of just worrying about how we can prepare for our welfare especially with the onset of the rainy season, we are placed at risk. This adds to our worries."

Meanwhile, legislative efforts are underway to correct errors of Presidential Proclamation No. 420 granting SEZ tax and duty incentives in John Hay.

Lawmakers warn though that the corrections may not be retroactive.

The BCDA had earlier dared CJHDevco to pay its P1.2 billion "due and demandable debt" before BCDA agrees to talk about the remaining arrears of CJHDevCo.

No comments: