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September 27, 2013

Overcoming Roadblocks to Camp John Hay

Through the partnership of Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo) and the City of Baguio, the historic Camp John Hay was not only restored to its former glory but was rehabilitated into a world-class eco-tourism site. This endeavor has helped generate jobs for the locals, rehabilitate Baguio’s forest area, and, all-in-all, revive the City of Pines.

Triumph Despite Adversity

Yes, a lot has been achieved since this partnership began. However, it is also noteworthy to mention that CJHDevCo achieved all of the foregoing financial, economic, developmental, and community contributions despite the many challenges, obstacles and adversities it faced in the past and continues to face at present.

The first major challenge was when the Supreme Court declared that contrary to law, Camp John Hay, together with Clark Air Base and Poro Point, was not a Special Economic Zone (SEZ).  This resulted in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs levying non-SEZ taxes and duties on CJHDevCo with such taxes and duties reckoned from the start of operations. This was a travesty because the contract between the government and CJH DevCo specifically identified Camp John Hay to have SEZ status; therefore it was one of the primary incentives for investors and the premise upon which all investments were made.

All in the same boat: Poro Point  (L) and Clark (R) Photo credit: poropointfreeport.org, wikipedia.org

All in the same boat: Poro Point (L) and Clark (R)
Photo credit: poropointfreeport.org, wikipedia.org

Instead of backing out of the contract, we stood by our commitment to develop Camp John Hay. In time, thankfully, Congress reinstated the SEZ status of Camp John Hay, along with Clark and Poro Point. Although at this point, we had already incurred significant material losses and lost opportunities.

bcda logoIn order to make up for lost time, CJHDevCo, in good faith, entered into a Restructured Memorandum of Agreement (RMOA) in July 2008 with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA). This RMOA, however, was dependent on the creation of a One Stop Action Center (OSAC) that was created to process and issue all business, building and other developmental permits, certificates and licenses necessary to facilitate the construction and commercial operations of Camp John Hay for the implementation of the Master Development Plan and Project which are applicable inside the CJH SEZ.

Sadly, BCDA has failed, and continues to fail, to set up the full operations of the One Stop Action Center (OSAC) agreed upon in the RMOA,  To date, the OSAC is still non-functioning and fails to function as envisioned in July 2008.

Imagine What More Can Cooperation Bring

In spite of these obstacles, CJHDevCo has achieved a lot. Imagine what more can be provided for the City of Baguio had all parties been working as they should since the start of this endeavor.

Nevertheless, recognizing the facility’s incomparable history, we remain as committed to achieving our dreams for Camp John Hay today as we were when we started out with this project over fifteen years ago.

Photo credit: poropointfreeport.org, Wikipedia, BCDA

Photos used under the Fair Use Exemption of the IP Code.

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