July 18, 2024

■  Hanna C. Lacsamana   

The city council will prepare to unify the action of City Hall and set a dialogue regarding issues surrounding the city government’s relationship with the Bases Conversion Development Authority concerning Camp John Hay.

In its special session on June 28, the council aborted its discussions with representatives from the BCDA and the Office of Government Corporate Counsel who joined the session via Zoom for clarifications on various CJH issues due to technical difficulties.

Councilor Peter Fianza instead suggested for the city to prepare and invite BCDA and John Hay Management Corp. to a dialogue, which he said BCDA manifested its interest to pursue during a session in October last year.

For his part, Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan strongly suggested for the city council to spearhead a summit on the CJH issues where all sectors and stakeholders can be invited to once and for all revisit the 19 conditions of the city government of Baguio on the development of John Hay economic zone.

“Let us invite everyone, every sector to talk about this problem how we could end it in a way that is acceptable for the city. If that is the way then we will approve a resolution setting a date for a summit,” Olowan said. 

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda suggested having a face to face dialogue with BCDA-JHMC first as a preparatory move for the conduct of a summit to identify and clarify the issues firsthand before involving all the stakeholders, which include the concerned barangays, business sector, and concerned government agencies.

Olowan made the suggestion since the representatives appearing for BCDA during the last session and in previous invitations do not provide straightforward response to the queries of the councilors, and are even hesitant to answer them.

The council approved the motion to invite BCDA-JHMC for a dialogue and provide the same with the minutes of the council’s Oct. 16, 2023 session, through its respective chairpersons and board of directors.

Earlier in the session, the councilors tried to get an update on the master development plan of BCDA for Camp John Hay, as well its stand on the issues on barangay segregation/exclusion, the pending Supreme Court case between BCDA and the city and the arbitral ruling on the case between BCDA and Camp John Hay Development Corp.

The BCDA representative however said they are precluded to discuss the issues since these are still subject of the pending cases, both of which have not been resolved as final and executory.

Fianza further explained there is a need for the city to have a unified action before holding a dialogue with BCDA upon information from City Legal Officer Althea Alberto that Mayor Benjamin had meetings with the BCDA President Joshua Bingcang and JHMC president Atty. Marlo Quadra separately to discuss the BCDA’s adherence to the city’s 19 conditions.

Alberto said the mayor wanted to relay to the city council that both parties do not see an adversarial relationship and that he having secured the support of BCDA and JHMC with regards to an aligned management of all the resources shared by the city and BCDA-JHMC.

She said the meetings were not to negotiate any of the issues but more of discussions on how to move forward on matters relating to John Hay.

Representatives from concerned government agencies will be invited to the dialogue being planned by the city council as resource persons.