October 24, 2013
The Best Steward for Camp John Hay
When the John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ) was created through Presidential Proclamation No. 420 in 1994, ’19 conditionalities’ were declared – including respect for the indigenous people in the area. While Republic Act 7227 conveyed stewardship of the Camp John Hay (CJH) grounds to the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) through the John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC), the City of Baguio still retains the sole authority to issue building and occupancy permits for constructions within the JHSEZ. This authority finds its basis in the City Council Resolution No. 362 series of 1994 that according to city legal officer Melchor Carlos Rabanes:
“… set the conditionalities in the formulation of the Master Development Plan for Camp John Hay and clearly provides it is mandatory for the BCDA to secure building and other permits from the city’s building official for the construction of vertical structures within the zone.”
However, it has been reported that the JHMC has not been respecting these conditionalities. Recently, a number of classrooms intended for the use of the citizens of Baguio were demolished by JHMC without the consent of the city council. In fact, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan did not mince words as he expressed his disappointment in the JHMC because respect for the people of the region was not observed during this unfortunate event.
I cannot stress enough how important it is for the stewards of this property to follow the rule of law. any group or organization, whether public or private, should do their duty of overseeing the development of Camp John Hay in a manner that respects the people to whom this property truly belongs to: the people of Baguio City.
This is why I say now, who better to see to the development of a region than the one who is from this place? You can say that the service would be even better given that this new steward will have more of a connection to his own city.
This is precisely why I support the desire of the local government under the current leadership of Mayor Domogan to take over the stewardship of the JHSEZ. As a son of Baguio City, he knows the needs of his beloved city best and in turn would be able to address issues that are closest to the heart of his fellow sons and daughters of Baguio.
What is at stake here is not just the development of one property but also the development of an entire region. In the right hands, the JHSEZ can be utilized to improve the lives of the people of Baguio. If you may recall, we at the Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevCo) created employment for over 3,000 workers throughout the CJH facilities inside the JHSEZ. Eighty-five percent of the employees within the camp come from the BLISTT area (Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay).
Imagine the true development that can be achieved if only the stewardship of such an important area is put in the hands of one who knows by heart and only has the best of intentions for those within it. The John Hay Economic Zone deserves a steward like that. Otherwise, the impending loss of opportunity will be too much for Baguio City to bear.
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