Camp John Hay officials face malversation charges; former Justice Secretary included

The Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) filed malversation charges against officials of the Sobrepeña-led Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevCo) and subsidiary CJH Hotels, including a former Cabinet official under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, before the Department of Justice today.

CJHDevCo Chairman and CEO Robert John Sobrepeña, board members Enrique and William Russel Sobrepeña, board member and former Justice Secretary Silvestre Bello III, and 13 others were the respondents in the case filed by BCDA President Arnel Paciano Casanova.

The said officials were slapped with 52 counts, 26 of which for malversation of public funds or property and the other half for failure to deliver such to the government, both pursuant to the Revised Penal Code.

Prior to filing the complaint to Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, Casanova blamed CJHDevCo for “holding, managing and operating BCDA-administered units from 2008 to present and have been profoting there without giving their proper accounting and remittances.”

The 22-page complaint cited CJHDevCo’s refusal to return to the government 16 units of CJH Manor Hotel and and 10 units of CJH Suites Hotel – both located in Baguio City – which cost a sum of P121 million.

The complaint also stated that the property company continued to earn but CJHDevCo refused to liquidate revenues from the 26 hotel rooms – all considered public property.

CJHDevCo gave the titles of the 26 units to the government as partial payment to its unpaid lease rentals costing P2.6 billion in 2008. However, BCDA never signed the lease agreement over the units as the term of the leaseback exceeded the term of CJHDevCo’s lease over BCDA-administered Camp John Hay, which started in 1996.

Casanova stated in his complaint that “the Securities and Exchange Commission ordered CJHDevCo and CJH Hotels to cease and desist from further engaging in selling unregistered securities… which exposes the public to the danger of investing in worthless securities” last June 7th.

Casanova is also demanding the immediate return of the said hotel units to the government.

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