Judge inhibits self from Camp John Hay caseBy Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The protracted court battle over the Camp John Hay development in Baguio City has suffered further delay after a judge inhibited herself from the case following disclosure that her politician-husband had financial ties with Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevco).
The CJHDevco, the private developer owned by the Sobrepeña family, has been in a legal tussle with the state-run Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), the agency mandated to transform former military bases into productive civilian enterprises, over CJHDevco’s leased Camp John Hay properties.
In a statement it issued Wednesday, the BCDA said Judge Mona Lisa Tabora had inhibited herself from the case during a hearing on April 18 because of her husband’s alleged “close financial ties with the Sobrepeñas, a fact that she did not immediately reveal at the start of the case.”
“The judge’s belated disclosure came as a surprise and effectively delayed the resolution of the case. It is feared that CJHDevco will capitalize on the situation to further delay and evade paying its P3-billion debt to government,” the BCDA said.
The BCDA has claimed that CJHDevco owed the government P3.024 billion in rent arrears.
Tabora had earlier granted CJHDevco extended and indefinite temporary restraining orders (TROs) that effectively prevented the BCDA from taking over CJHDevco’s leased properties within the John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ).
According to the BCDA, Tabora revealed during the hearing that her husband, former Baguio City Councilor Antonio Tabora, had been receiving campaign contributions from CJHDevco and from its director, Enrique “Jay” Sobrepena Jr.
CJHDevco, however, has reportedly denied the judge’s claim of campaign contributions.
The BCDA also cited reports that the judge’s husband was a cockfighting buddy of Jay Sobrepeña, and played golf during CJHDevco tournaments.
The BCDA said the CJHDevco had been delinquent in its payment of rentals and arrears, for the lease of 247 hectares within the JHSEZ under a 25-year lease agreement between the BCDA and CJHDevco, signed in 1996.
In late 2008, CJHDevco refused outright to make any payments, it said.
According to the BCDA, CJHDevco first requested and was eventually allowed in August 1999 to defer payments for leases incurred in 1997 and 1998. This was then followed by three restructuring agreements, which were signed in July 14, 2000, July 18, 2003, and finally, July 1, 2008. It was this last restructuring agreement that CJHDevco had then wanted to rescind to allegedly evade the payment of P3 billion in rental arrears.
Disclosure at last
CJHDevco unilaterally rescinded the contract with BCDA in January 2012 to evade payment of its P3-billion debt, the BCDA said.
After realizing that it no longer had a working agreement with the government, CJHDevco then filed for a TRO to prevent a possible government takeover of its facilities, BCDA said.
A three-day TRO was granted on Jan. 24, which was extended for another 17 days. During the second hearing on Feb. 27, Tabora required the parties to submit their respective memorandums by March 7 after which she said she would decide the case.
During a third hearing on April 18, Tabora inhibited herself from the case after disclosing her husband’s ties with CJHDevco and the Sobrepeñas. The case will be raffled off to another judge.
Originally posted at 07:37 pm | Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Short URL: http://business.inquirer.net/?p=54295
Tags: Baguio city , Baguio City Regional Trial Court Judge Mona Lisa Tabora , Bases Conversion and Development Authority , Camp John Hay , Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevco) , CJHDevco , John Hay Special Economic Zone , Mona Lisa Tabora , Robert Sobrepeña