Baguio City asserts right to share in lease of Camp John Hay

Baguio City asserts right to share in lease of Camp John Hay
File Photo from Camp John Hay Facebook page

AMID the legal battle between government-owned Bases Conversion and Development Corporation (BCDA) and Sobrepena group's Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo), the city government remains hopeful it will soon receive its 25 percent share from the annual lease rental of the former United States (US) rest and recreation facility.

Baguio Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan expressed optimism in a recent phone interview that the city's share will be released to the local government, regardless of the outcome of the final legal battle.

This came after the Supreme Court's (SC) decision on April 10, 2024, ordering CJHDevCo to vacate the leased premises and turn them over to the BCDA.

BCDA is the government office that manages all former American-run bases, including Camp John Hay.

The SC, in turn, ordered the BCDA to return to CJHDevCo the PHP1.4 billion it paid as rental.

In 1996, the national government, through the BCDA, agreed with the city government with 19 conditions for the development of Camp John Hay.

One condition of the lease agreement between Sobrepena group's CJHDevCo and the Camp John Hay Special Economic Zone Authority is that the city will receive a 25 percent share of the rental income from the 247 hectares.

"We are entitled to that share. We will continue negotiating with them to get our share," Olowan, a lawyer, said.

Meanwhile, Councilor Elmer Datuin, also a lawyer, said filing a "motion for reconsideration" on the matter would be the final step.

"Any of the parties will probably file or not file, but we will never forget the 19 conditions that gave us our share of 25 percent, which was the basis for the issuance of the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) needed for them to proceed with the development," he said.

He added that with the case between the BCDA and the CJHDevCo case about to be terminated, the city government must continue reiterating that the Baguio City government is entitled to a monetary share.

"If BCDA takes over the leased property, which now has the hotels and the golf course, we will, and we must negotiate the payment of past rentals and assure that future rentals will be collected," he said.

While the final amount of the city's share remains a question, among the benefits of the lease rental is the city's current ownership of the Baguio Convention Center, which it purchased from the Government Service Insurance System using money from the BCDA, which is part of the 25 percent share. (PNA)


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