Of trees and payments-A A +A
When ‘Ish’ Meets ‘Weh’
Thursday, February 21, 2013
JOHN Hay Management Corporation president and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Agbayani called for a press conference Friday last week to address issues surrounding the agency, particularly the 60 dead trees cut within the camp premises.
Understandably, Agbayani was distraught over the negative reports which appeared in papers and just like mother protecting her cub, she was fierce.
I say understandably. After all, what kind of leader would Agbayani be if she leaves her people and organization in a compromising situation and leave them undermined?
The press conference started with Agbayani stressing JHMC remains committed to protecting the environment and is certainly committed to government’s national regreening program through its forest management system set in place in the camp.
The 60 pine trees cut, according to the executive, were infested by ips – a bug which goes deep into the trunk – and were already posing danger to life and property. Also the JHMC asked for the trees to be cut in 2010 but was only addressed last year.
The tree cutting permit was issued by Mayor Mauricio Domogan after heeding the recommendation of the multisectoral tripartite monitoring team tasked to oversee several affairs in the camp.
That the cutting came before the annual Fil-Am Invitation Golf Tournament in November last year left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. Speculation was that the trees were healthy but the city just did not want to displease the golf players by blocking their lines of sight and hence the cutting.
I honestly find this hard to believe. They could not be so heartless.
On the other hand, the process by which the tree cutting permit was obtained is a whole different story. No one is above the law and if someone skirts the law if only because he wants to act in haste, he should still be held accountable.
But anyhow, in the spirit of Lent, I will rest on the belief that JHMC acted in good faith. It has been said, sincerity even in error is strength.
After the lengthy discussion on the trees, talks inevitably went to the ongoing case of JHMC versus the Camp John Hay Development Corporation, estate developer of the former American military base.
I am not in a position to give you a detailed summary, not even a facile one, on where, when, why and how all these brouhaha started.
To cut the story short, CJHDevCo has refused to pay JHMC lease rentals. Even the amount is under contention and so I will not put a peg on this one.
Things have become so bad that the two companies are waging wars in court alternately filing a case against the other, exhausting all possible means to win what seems to be a battle to match the 100 years war.
Again I find this understandable. But of course. They are only protecting their interests. So this now begs the question, who is protecting the interests of the city?
The city is set to receive a fixed percentage from rentals of the CJHDevCo. Until they pay up, the city is left wanting and needing money for the Baguio Convention Center which badly needs repair and all this time the city is accruing interest payments with the Government Service and Insurance System, still technically the legit owner of the dilapidated building.
Mayor Domogan kept expressing his hope for the two warring camps to find a way to settle out of court. But when the two went to court he took the stance of letting them battle it out cautious (?) not to dip his fingers in these affairs. Wait and see kumbaga.
I may not be versed in the law but I know there must be something the city could do to finally compel CJHDevCo to pay. A resolution or something. Anything. Anything but inaction. Anything but indifference. Anything please for the people of Baguio.
The cases filed by the JHMC and CHJDevCo will surely take their course. And expect these will take time. But early as now, the city is already the biggest loser. Who should take the blame?
Your answer is as good as mine. In the meantime, there’s this tree atop Session Road which needs cutting. Now, where can one get a permit for that?
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 22, 2013.