Court to Camp John Hay developer: Vacate area

>> Tuesday, May 5, 2015

BCDA warned of lawsuits over evictions 

BAGUO CITY –The Office of the ex-officio sheriff of the Regional Trial Court Branch 6 served notice to vacate Monday to private developer of Camp John Hay here following outcome of a legal battle with the Bases Conversion Development Authority.

The order was addressed to Camp John Hay Development Corp. “and all persons claiming rights under them [CJHDevCo].”

For this, the BCDA may face lawsuits should it insist on evicting locators and lessees here at Camp John Hay, CJHDevCo officials said.

The camp’s developer issued the warning last week the RTC issued eviction order against it following the resolution of an arbitration case with BCDA.

CJHDevCo executive vice president Alfredo Yñiguez III said the locators invested in good faith and are protected by law.

He said the writ of execution and the notice to vacate issued by Baguio Judge Cecilia Archog stated that BCDA must first pay P1.42 billion it owes to CJHDevCo.

Yñiguez said the payments made by the third party locators and lessees were credited in the final award as BCDA’s payment for the interest it owed.

CJHDevCo lawyer Gilbert Reyes said BCDA benefited from the payments made by investors at the camp.  

This, as Rep. Nicasio M. Aliping Jr. said he with other city officials will press the BCDA to remit the city government’s 25 percent share of rentals from Camp John Hay.

When Aliping learned of the vacate order Wednesday, he said he will talk to BCDA president and CEO Arnel Paciano Casanova on how to collect the city’s share from the PP 1.4 billion the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. (PDRCI) ordered the government-run corporation to return to CJHDevCo.

The amount represents the rental CJHDevCo paid to BCDA for the first years of its operations of the former American rest and recreation facility located in Baguio.

Previous to the issuance of the notice, Casanova said the city can collect its share from the amount BCDA is set to return to CJHDevCo.

He also gave similar advice to other third parties of interest to the case particularly the locators, sub-lessees, unit owners, and golf club members.

It was learned that Archog ordered BCDA to set up a trust fund, the amount would be deposited and which the court will disburse to CJHDevCo depending on the latter’s compliance to the writ of execution she penned based on the PDRCI judgment.

Casanova said that city and other locators, sub-lessees, unit owners, and golf club members can recoup their paid rentals from this amount.

He also advised them to seek legal counsel on how to collect their paid rentals to CJHDevCo.

Aliping said he will make it his priority when Congress resumes its sessions on May 4 to collect what is due to the city now that all the court cases are over.

“We have a pending House of Representatives resolution with the House committee on bases conversion calling for the automatic deduction of the city’s share from the amount the BCDA is supposed to refund to CJHDevCo.”

There are 118 business establishments in Camp John Hay, including 85 residential structures and 384 hotel rooms with 75% of them sub-leasing from CJHDevCo.

The Sobrepena-led CJHDevCo also has stakes in at least three establishments sub-leasing from the private development company.

These are the Forest Lodge, The Manor (both hotels) and the Camp John Hay Golf Club and Clubhouse.


Fishkill hits two P’sinan towns

BOLINAO, Pangasinan – Bangus (milkfish) growers in Bolinao and Anda towns in Pangasinan scrambled for an emergency harvest Thursday morning following another fishkill.

A fishkill last week affected 500 tons of bangus, Bolinao Mayor Arnold Celeste said.

Celeste said Barangays Luna, Pilar and Luciente 1 and 2, which are nearest to the Cacquiputan Channel, were the latest to be affected by the fishkill.

“Many were dead, but many were also saved due to forced harvest,” he said.

Celeste said bangus growers observed that the coastal waters turned “coffee-like” after it rained in the area. “This possibly contributed to loss of oxygen for the bangus,” he said.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Region 1 Director Nestor Domenden said an investigation to determine the cause of the fishkills is underway. – Eva Visperas


Cagayan town mayor, 3 others face graft raps

TUGUEGARAO CITY -- The Office of the Ombudsman indicted a Cagayan town mayor and three others for anomalous disbursements of government funds amounting to over P18 million from 2000 to 2009.

Aside from Amulung mayor Nicanor de Leon, ex-mayor Pacita de Leon, municipal treasurer Luzviminda Macasio and municipal accountant Maria Remudaro are now facing malversation and graft charges before the Sandiganbayan.

Records showed that in December 2008, the Commission on Audit (COA) issued the Annual Audit Report noting that the municipality’s accounts in the financial statements are unreliable and inaccurate due to the failure to maintain ledgers and several funds remain unaccounted for.  

In 2010, the COA conducted a special fraud audit and issued several Notices of Disallowance in connection with the unlawful disbursement of funds totaling P18 million.

The results of the audit revealed that Pacita and Nicanor, during their respective terms as mayor, countersigned a total of 38 checks without disbursement vouchers and other supporting documents. 

From 2000 to 2007, Nicasio approved and facilitated the release of 29 checks totaling P16,340,959.04, while Pacita signed nine checks totaling P2,377,202.61 from 2007 to 2009. 

On the other hand, Remudaro made it appear that the checks were disbursed for valid purposes.


3 CAR environment officials face graft for realigning funds

BAGUIO CITY -- The Office of the Ombudsman indicted three officials of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Cordillera Administrative Region for several alleged anomalous transactions.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales approved the filing of criminal charges against EMB regional director Joel Salvador, accountant II AsterioTolentino Jr., and budget officer Perlita Mauri before the Sandiganbayan over questionable transactions stemming from the rehabilitation of their office building in 2004.

Also facing criminal charges were officer-in-charge Rolando Reyes and contractors David Dominong and Mariano Ang of Pyramid Hardware Construction Supply (PHCS).

The cases stemmed from complaint by the Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office of the Office of the Ombudsman based on the audit report of the Commission on Audit.

In a 24-page resolution, the office said there was collusion between Salvador, Tolentino and Mauri in realigning the funds for the Ecological Solid Waste Management Project of the Municipality of Tuba, Benguet and instead used it for the building rehabilitation project.   

"There is no showing that authority to realign the budget was secured by the management ... their collaborative acts gave way to illegal expenditure of public fund intended for another purpose," the resolution stated.

Ombudsman investigators also discovered that the award to Dominong of the construction contract for the regional director's office and the purchase of construction materials from PHCS amounting to P758,998.07 were transacted without the requisite public bidding.

The payment to suppliers Ang and Dominong was facilitated despite the non-performance of the contracted labor and deliveries of construction materials, lack of purchase orders, certificate of inspection and assessment and the release of the retention money to the contractor was made despite the existence of defects in the construction project, the resolution said.

The charges against acting cashier HermilinaLausa and officer-in-charge of the administrative and finance division Ligaya Garcia were dismissed for lack of probable cause.


1 dead, 10 hurt in Isabela, La Union mishaps

TUGUEGARAO CITY – A driver died and 10 others suffered serious injuries  in two separate road accidents involving three vans in Isabela and La Union on Tuesday, police  said.

The Starex van that Gary Forto, 23, was driving plunged into a ravine along a winding road in Barangay Namnama in Tumauini town in Isabela, Tumauini police  chief Insp. Randy Cabaddu said.

Cabaddu said Vicente Velasco, 23, and JomariTumolva, 13, were injured.

In Aringay, La Union, eight persons were hurt when two vans collided along the national highway in Barangay Poblacion.

The victims were identified as Adolfo Bautista Jr. and Roger Niyos and passengers Marcy Renoto, Marilyn Rubines, Imelda Guiang, Daniette Anne Guiang, Albert Joseph Mercado and 13-year-old JoranRenoto.


Yaranon named 12th of Baguio City council

BAGUIO CITY – Former city councilor Lilia Yaranon has been named by Malacanang as the 12th member of the city council after a year of wait since the untimely death of Vice Mayor Daniel Farinas.

Baguio Rep. Nicasio M. Aliping Jr. congratulated Yaranon after receiving word that his party-mate in the Liberal Party was chosen by President Benigno Aquino III to replace Edison Bilog.

Bilog took over the function of the vice mayor for being the number 1 elected councilor during the 2010 local elections.

His promotion created a vacuum in the city council which was contested by Farinas’ widow, Lilia Farinas, and Yaranon.

“Pursuant to the provisions of existing laws, you are hereby appointed member, SangguniangPanlungsod of Baguio City, vice Edison Bilog,” the order stated.

Aliping, the LP Baguio City chairman, said “We are thankful to the President for filling the vacancy at the city council. Now the legislative body of the city of Baguio can function fully and the residents of Baguio are fully represented.”

Yaranon lost in the 2010 elections placing 14th for the 12-man council. However rules of succession in the council specifies members of the party of the member which caused the vacancy will take over the vacancy upon the appointment of the President.

Bilog belongs to the Liberal Party, the same with Yaranon.

Last year, two LP members were nominated to replace Bilog: Mark Go, who ran for the lone congressional seat of the city, and Yaranon.

With the appointment of Yaranon to the city council there are now five LP members in the legislative body. They are Bilog, Isabelo Cosalan, Leandro Yangot, Faustino Olowan and Yaranon.


MP capitol repair delay hurting public service

By March Fianza

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The unexpected issuance of a cease and desist order by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines that suspended renovation of the provincial capitol building has prolonged the agony of government workers and their clients here, and hampered smooth delivery of public service.

The CDO issued on April 25, 2013 by Dr. Maria Serena I. Diokno, NHCP Chair, baffled other provincial and local government officials because in the first place it was NHCP that gave its approval to the project a year earlier on March 23, 2012.

Gov. Leonard G. Mayaen said, “NHCP went against itself when it issued the CDO,” even while this has barred an impending reconstruction of the half front portion of the old and dilapidated provincial capitol building of Mountain Province.

He said with approval of the reconstruction project by the NHCP, the Sanggunian Panlalawigan issued Resolution 2013-26 on January 21, 2013 that authorized the Office of the Governor to proceed with the project.

Dr. Diokno hinged her CDO on the unauthorized demolition of the original brick wall foundation of the building as reported by a technical group that visited Bontoc 15 days earlier before the CDO.

But Mayaen said last week  the demolished facade of the building that was to be integrated in the proposed new building as earlier agreed on was not made of bricks but with cement that was designed to look like bricks by masons and painters who were hired to repair the front face of the capitol during the term of OIC Gov. Alfredo Lamen Jr. in 1989.  

The front portion of the old two-storey wooden capitol structure was built by the Americans sometime in 1907 while the back portion was built before the Second World War.

Although the capitol has not been formally declared as a heritage and cultural site, Section 5 of RA 10066 presumes all structures more than 50 years old as Important Cultural Property.

Mayaen said he agreed with Diokno on Sec. 5 of RA1006. But he added “there is no longer a capitol of Mountain Province that is 50 years old or more to speak of because repairs and constructions have altered the original form of the building.”

As proof, Mayaen cited that in 1989 onwards, the brick columns were changed into concrete and were finished with brick-like designs; the back of the capitol building was demolished in 2007 paving for the construction of two new four-floor concrete buildings; the floors, walls and ceilings of the old building were replaced with concrete, marble or new material.

In an earlier letter to Mayaen on September 13, 2011; Dr. Diokno suggested three options for the provincial government to choose from, relative to the reconstruction of the old dilapidated building.

The provincial LGU chose the third option which was: “Dismantle the wooden building wing and integrate its facade into the new (replacement) building.”

When the NHCP gave its approval of the reconstruction project on March 23, 2012; the Sanggunian Panlalawigan consequently authorized the governor through a resolution to make the necessary requirements while 80 percent of the provincial employees approved of the project.

Mayaen said, the province submitted a position paper two years ago as requested by the NHCP after it issued the CDO but they have yet to receive any significant reply, except for a letter reiterating the CDO.

According to Diokno, the suspension on the renovation works will be lifted “only upon the written authority of this Commission”.

As a consequence, provincial employees had to suffer for a longer period as important frontline service offices had to move and exchange rooms with other offices in order to squeeze in more government workers.   

The tourism and provincial administrator’s office share a room, the Public Information Office shares with the Social Welfare Office, while the PSWDO shares with security services office since half of the front of the capitol building was demolished in April of 2013.

Mayaen said, the province simply wanted to continue the past administration’s grand idea of constructing a bigger concrete capitol building to address the pressing need for more space to its ever-growing number of provincial personnel to include national line agencies like the Commission on Audit, National Bureau of Investigation, and Comelec.

The proposed construction was premised to the past administration’s honest assessment of the true sad state of the old building that it is a fire hazard and the wooden second floor creeks even when stepped on by a medium built individual.

Vibration in the building can be felt when vehicles pass the road and the grounds as well as the second floor level elevation are one meter lower than the floor levels of the newly constructed buildings at the back.

Water leaks through the roof on rainy days, particularly at the executive assistants tables of the governor’s office, and that explains the presence of a water pail in the room.


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