Amend BCDA Law to Highlight LGU Wishes
May 30, 2015
BAGUIO CITY – A proposal is now being deliberated in the House of Representatives Committee on Bases Conversion to amend Republic Act 7227, or the Philippine Bases Conversion and Development Act, so that the interests of local government units where former American baselands were located would be included.
This was revealed by Baguio Rep. Nicasio M. Aliping Jr. who is a member of the committee for the administration as he rued the inability of Baguio City to collect some PHP800 million the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) has failed to remit since Camp John Hay was privatized in 1996.
According to Rep. Aliping, the city of Baguio appears helpless now that the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. (PDRCI) has ordered the government owned BCDA to return P1.42 billion to the Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo) in return for ceding the Camp John Hay economic zone back to it.
”The city of Baguio is the biggest loser in this entire drama,” Aliping said, explaining that with the withdrawal of CJHDevCo, there is no assurance that the city can still collect what the BCDA owes the city as its percentage of the lease rentals of Camp John Hay.
”Under the 19 conditionalities, which were agreed with by the BCDA in 1996, the BCDA was supposed to remit 25% of the lease rentals yearly to Baguio but up to today the city still has to see a single centavo of this,” Rep. Aliping added.
In response to this, Aliping said the committee on Bases Conversion is studying the possibility of amending the BCDA Law so that the interests of LGUs hosting former American bases or baselands would be protected and respected.
”It would probably be a special provision in the BCDA Law,” he explained.
The provision would force BCDA officials to coordinate their development efforts with LGUs and to get the consent of local government officials and locals before additional development work would be introduced in the BCDA property, he added.
”For example, building permits inside any BCDA-owned property must be given by the host LGU so as to protect the citizens of the town or city and to ensure that there construction are up to national standards,” Aliping explained.
As this developed, Aliping said another committee on Bases Conversion will be conducting a meeting within the month to determine how Baguio can collect the PHP 800 million due it.
”We have to find out and finally settle who has to pay this amount,” Aliping stressed.
The BCDA insists that the city should lay its claim on the PHP1.42 billion it returned to CJHDevCo which is now in an escrow account administered by the Regional Trial Court Branch 6./Carl C. Taawan