Golfers want BIR to probe Sobrepeña; Biazon Struggles

October 3, 2013

By Ray Eñano

Aggrieved members of the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club in Carmona, Cavite are fed up with the boardroom tactics of businessman Robert John “Bob” Sobrepeña of the Fil-Estate Group. They now want Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares to investigate the alleged unpaid taxes of Bob’s Fil-Estate to the tune of over P614 million.

The members claim that some 450 stock certificates of Southwoods have remained undelivered by Bob’s Fil-Estate to members and that capital gains taxes for the same number of shares were not paid. At an average price of P3 million from 1992 to 1995, the 450 shares that remain in possession of Fil-Estate have an average tax liability of P300,000 each, or a total of P135 million.

The members said including a surcharge of P33.75 million and a compounded interest (at 12 percent per annum) of P445.5 million in 22 years, Fil Estate’s tax liabilities amount to P614.25 million.

Fil-Estate, according to the members, accumulated the tax liabilities by allowing shareholders with no certificates to become members. “Instead of using stock certificate numbers for their accounts, members were given membership numbers, misleading members that they have proper documents,” a disappointed golfer said.

“The worst is since 2005 to present, the board of Southwoods authorized engineer Francisco Gonzalez to auction shares [of those] who do not have certificates. A total of at least 150 shares with no certificates have been resold, and capital gains tax again not paid,” he said.

The disgruntled members further claimed that Bob and the board had been using the undelivered shares as part of their proxies during election time.

“Many buyers of shares were accepted as members of the club but could not get delivery of the shares of stock of Manila Southwoods and therefore could not vote in the annual meeting of shareowners. Their shares were being proxied to Bob Sobrepeña by Fil-Estate,” he said.

Two members, Jaime Gosiaco and Hanson So, meanwhile, asked Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Teresita Herbosa to intervene in Southwoods, where the existing board of directors headed by Bob’s group “has conspired to perpetuate themselves  in their position through a recurring failure to achieve a quorum in the annual stockholders’ meeting…”

Resistant to change

Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon must have realized by now that it will take more than an Eliot Ness to dismantle the entrenched corruption  in his agency. Changing the staqus quo in Customs has been an impossible task and Ruffy faces the specter of being swallowed by the same corrupt system now firmly in place, like the fate of those before him.

After two years in office, Biazon has not been lacking in detractors, who claim that he has not done enough and that he must resign, especially since President Benigno Aquino III publicly castigated the bureau in his State of the Nation Address in July.

While Ruffy did hand in his resignation letter to Malacañang, President Aquino did not accept it. That can only mean that he still enjoys the full confidence of the President. Ruffy then must do whatever it takes to clean up the graft-ridden Customs.

The reforms being implemented by Biazon are wide-ranging. There’s the computerization of all aspects of Customs operations to minimize human intervention and curtail opportunities for under-the-table deals by corrupt officials and personnel used to taking bribes from unscrupulous importers.

Biazon is also using new technology to deal with thieves. He will soon require the use of the satellite-based Global Positioning System to monitor the whereabouts of taxable goods that pass through Customs premises. The Customs chief indicated that there will be no sacred cows in the agency.

It is understandable that some Customs personnel are adamant in staying on and want to continue enjoy the perks and privileges of public office, where the sky’s the limit in so far as largesse is concerned. But with the reforms that Biazon has in mind, however, their days could be numbered.

The system-wide reforms that Biazon wants to implement would only come to naught, however, if the individuals who make up the agency are totally resistant to change. Biazon has already spent considerable time in the past two years re-orienting their mindsets toward real public service. This will take time but it can be done.

E-mail: rayenano@yahoo.com or business@mst.ph or extrastory2000@gmail.com 


Newsletter from Southwoods Golfers – Fore 8 (Issue 8)

July 14, 2013

Fore 8

A fan mail!

I rarely would publish a fan mail, but this one is different. Publishing a fan mail bereft of arguments is a waste of time. How do you tell them they are wrong when they do not posit a reason for the stand or statement they have made. But the e mail that came from William Russell Sobrepena is different because it gives the reader a window to the workings of Mr. Sobrepena’s mind and his beliefs.  And if this is how  William Russell Sobrepena thinks, can one conclude that the same views and beliefs are shared by the Sobrepena family?

But let me quote the e mail and you be the judge…

—– Original Message —–

From: “William Russell Sobrepena” <sobrepena@gmail.com>

To: “Southwood Golfers” <admin@southwoodsgolfer.com>

Sent: Tue, 25 Jun 2013 12:21:00 +0800

Subject: Re: “SOUTHWOODS – FORE 7″


For the fore-play group:  It appears you and your “cohorts,” if that’s an appropriate description to use, are the real bullies at Southwoods.  Consider the following:  (1) You seem so eager to grab the Club’s assets from those who had built it from scratch; (2) You want to “kick” them out, too; (3) You seem like you truly believe that you’re entitled to rule over others at Southwoods; (4) You seem to feel you belong to the “apihado” group; (5) It appears you are entitled to behave like someone who is “abusado;” (5)  You seem to be in denial, or “di aminado,” of your own written abuses against others without basis whatsoever.  And, (6) You seem like a very envious and power-hungry person — are you?  “Apihado kaya?  Baka naman, talagang abusado lang!  Pero, di aminado naman.”  Don’t get me wrong.  I have nothing against you, but your continued attacks against our family (parents, children, grandchildren, cousins and relatives) are being noted from a legal standpoint.  Meanwhile, cherish your tolerated presence at Southwoods, while the privilege lasts.  Finally, my invite stands – let’s enjoy a cup of coffee so you can de-freeze what’s left of your seemingly vindictive mind-set.  Lol….  


On Monday, June 24, 2013, Southwood Golfers wrote:

Let us take this point by point.

1.       You seem so eager to grab the Club’s assets from those who had built it from scratch”.. Russell does not seem to understand that all we ask is a fair and transparent ASM which will then allow the shareholders to elect a new set of directors. It has been three years where the club has had no election because of the very restrictive guidelines imposed by the current board on proxy solicitation and which has caused the failure to achieve quorum in the last 4 instances when an ASM is called. Nobody is trying to grab any asset.

The statement also implies that Russell believes that the group which built Southwoods from “scratch “ has some divine or legal right to continue controlling the assets of the club. This is where he is totally wrong. The group who built Southwoods from scratch (the developers ) sold these rights for a profit to the current shareholders of Southwoods.

The current shareholders have the exclusive rights to these assets and only  they can exercise these rights during the ASM when they choose their trustees/directors. This is what Bob Sobrepena and his board is preventing by their restrictive proxy solicitation rules which prevent quorum for the ASM from being attained.

2.        “You want to “kick” them out, too.” Again , a statement bereft of reason. A fair and transparent election in the Club’s ASM  will kick them out. Not us.

3.       “You seem like you truly believe that you’re entitled to rule over others at Southwoods”  What we believe in is that shareholders have the right to rule over their club via a transparent and fair ASM where the Directors are elected by the shareholders. And this right is required by law to be exercised yearly. The sitting Directors have a fiduciary obligation to ensure that quorum are achieved and the ASM proceeds so that shareholders may exercise their rights. This right is what the sitting directors is taking away from the shareholders by being remiss in their fiduciary obligations of holding an ASM yearly.

4.     Items 4 and 5 and 6, Russell has resorted to name calling with out again any basis for the names. Waste of time to address.

5.     Finally, a threat. “Meanwhile, cherish your tolerated presence at Southwoods, while the privilege lasts” … And Russell believes that I am the bully!!! I wonder what divine or legal right Russell Sobrepena has that he can deprive me of my privileges as a Southwoods member? Maybe this stems from his ( and Sobrepena family’s? ) view that they “own “ southwoods….

In the meantime, I will pass on the coffee invite of Russell  because  I guess i will have to play more often so that I can maximize the use of my privilege as a  Southwoods member “while the privilege lasts!”

So….. FORE!!!!

Your  Southwoods Hacker

 

 

 


Newsletter from Southwoods Golfers – FORE 7 (issue 7)

June 25, 2013

FORE 7

Brain Freeze

Brain freeze is that sensation one gets when one gets a very cold chilling thing like ice cones in to one’s mouth and the chill reaches the brain and momentarily stuns you…..

This was the sensation I got when I heard the news that the Southwoods Board on its June board meeting issued a resolution suspending indefinitely Jimmy Gosiaco, Hanson So and Ernie Salazar together with 7 or 8 other individuals led by Billy Gualberto. I don’t have the full list but that is 10 or 11 members of the club whose life would be altered in the next several months.

Brain freeze was the same sensation I got when I first heard the declaration of the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in 1972 by President Ferdinand Marcos as a prelude to martial law. The chill in my bones just went straight to my brain.

At that time, many Filipinos gave President Marcos the benefit of the doubt and said; maybe this is what our country needs. Maybe, a number of shareholders of Southwoods will think that maybe, the board is exercising prudent and beneficial action for the benefit of the club. Until of course we personally witness and are affected by the excesses of the ruling cabal as the Filipino people ultimately found out that the Marcos vision was good only for the Marcos family.

How long before we realize that the board action is good only for the Sobrepena family?

Bully

The Southwoods Board action on the suspended members cannot be anything but bullying. They have the power and the money of the club, and the suspended members have really nothing but their limited resources to fend for themselves. And the board imprudently exercised their power and suspended the members without the due process that even our club’s bylaws prescribe. 

There were no hearings, no opportunity for the suspended members to present their case and argue why they should not be penalized, and in the case of the group led by Billy Gualberto, the board action is at least 5 years after the supposed infraction and appears to be a very late kneejerk.

They also have been bullying the shareholders of Southwoods by not engaging the members and abusing the legal systems in order to perpetuate themselves in their position of power. How?

1.   They have intentionally failed in their fiduciary responsibility as Directors of the club in arranging an annual shareholders meeting for shareholders to approve their actions and elect directors. They have intentionally avoided securing shareholders approval of all their actions. In fact in a scheduled meeting in June 2011, some directors absented themselves from the meeting they themselves called. Other directors directed the corporate secretary not to count shares proxied to them just to avoid a quorum for the meeting. It has been three years that the board has failed in organizing a shareholders’ meeting. This is one of the board’s primary responsibility and they have avoided it.

2.   The board has amended the proxy solicitation and election rules that have been in place in the last twenty years, possibly even violating the bylaws of the club, and making it difficult for proxies to be solicited. This makes attainment of quorums in shareholders meeting impossible. 

3.   The board has intentionally turned a deaf ear to questions or challenges to their actions and have forced members to go to court for settlement of differences of views. They have arrogantly accorded to themselves infallibility of their decisions subject only to court corrections or modifications. This is more appropriate to privately held corporations whose ownership is clearly under the control of a group who controls the majority, but not to a social club whose ownership is much more diffused and whose directors hold but just nominal shares. This is clearly an abuse of the legal system and should have no place in a social/sports club where membership is supposed to be a privilege and consultations and consensus building will be more the norm than the exception.

The question is what do you do with bullies?

Quorum

In the next issue, we will analyze the history of the failed Shareholders meeting in the last three years. Wait for it.

In the meantime, Fore!

Your Southwoods Hacker.


Newsletter from Southwoods Golfers – FORE 6 (issue.06)

May 31, 2013

 

FORE !!!!!!

 

Southwoods Hacker received a number of e mailed feedback/reaction from

a number of readers. Allow me to share some with you.

 

From Freddie Mendoza … <fredmen@cargoair.net>

To: “Southwood Golfers” <admin@southwoodsgolfer.com>

Sent: Thu, 18 Apr 2013 17:17:18 +0800

Subject:

Re: “SOUTHWOODS – FORE”

I never knew you could write near impeccable English.  Anyway, that I know

is your own opinion and you are entitled to it.

==============================

To: Freddie, 



Southwoods Hacker thanks Freddie for the compliment about my English

and of course for respecting my opinion. I have never really been shy

in sharing my opinion. I actually look for people who would challenge

and debate my opinions …. not just respect them.

==============================

 

From: Freddie Mendoza … <fredmen@cargoair.net>

To: “Southwood Golfers” <admin@southwoodsgolfer.com>

Sent: Fri, 17 May 2013 17:33:10 +0800

Subject: “INTERAKSYON.COM THE ONLINE NEWS PORTAL OF TV5″

To my knowledge, he did not check in at the airport so you got kuryente

again. look up your files and sources before writing.

Thanks & Best regards,


Alfredo M. Mendoza, 
President / Managing Director



From: Southwoods Hacker

Southwoods Hacker would like to point Freddie to the feedback of William

Russel Sobrepena below, which confirms that Bob was at the airport and was

escorted out of the plane by immigration personnel! 


 

And this ABS-CBN news released on youtube last May 15, 2013, alleged that

he was at the airport and attempted to board the plane before he was

escorted back to reality.

 

Please review the ABS-CBN  link and email of William Russell Sobrepeña

below:

 

ABS-CBN News Link :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esPMTt0TRFo&feature=youtu.be

 

Email From: “William Russell Sobrepena” <sobrepena@gmail.com>

To: “Southwood Golfers” <admin@southwoodsgolfer.com>

Sent: Fri, 17 May 2013 15:32:23 +0800

Subject:

Re: “INTERAKSYON.COM THE ONLINE NEWS PORTAL OF TV5

 The 

DOJ-Immigration personnel had no Hold-Departure-Order at that point

in time, and therefore, their actions were violative of a person’s

Constitutional right to travel.  The Immigration officials were informed

by passenger Robert John L. Sobrepena that what they were about to

enforce was tantamount to an illegal act, and therefore, was contrary to

existing Law.  In spite of the DOJ-Immigration officials’ flagrant

violation of passenger Sobrepena’s Constitutional right to travel,

Sobrepena politely and humbly complied with their illegal execution

of an unofficial DOJ “order” that allegedly was received by them 

from a top DOJ official.  Setting aside your personal grudge against the

Southwoods founder, can’t you see that DOJ-Immigration personnel’s

behavior at NAIA was tantamount to “abuse of authority” and/or “acts

unbecoming of public officials?”         

From: “William Russell Sobrepena” <sobrepena@gmail.com>

 

To: “Southwood Golfers” <admin@southwoodsgolfercom>

Sent: Mon, 20 May 2013 15:35:21 +0800

Subject: “SOUTHWOODS – FORE 5

“
Kawawa naman kayo, wala ng ginawa kung hindi manira at mangulo!  

Hehehe

! William Russel Sobrepena shares two opposing views on the above.

One espouses adherence to due process and respect of the rights of persons

to travel but on the other hand makes fun of our efforts as ” paninira and

pangugulo ” to achieve an election in the ASM of Southwoods

(which is due process)  which has been controlled by his father and brother

since its founding. William Russell Sobrepena shows his Dr. Jekyll and

Mr . Hyde persona in these emails. But, is that not par for the course?


==================================================

From: “Gulshan Bedi” <sheanbedi@gmail.com>

To: “Southwood Golfers” <admin@southwoodsgolfer.com>

Sent: Tue, 7 May 2013 08:34:38 +0800

Subject: SOUTHWOODS


Dear Southwoods Hacker,

I read your Newsletter articles about the coming elections.

I also understand your immediate judgment of putting me in the same

boat with Bob Sobrepena. For what its worth, i wish to clarify:

Why I am running for the office ? 

Being a member of the club from the day it opened its doors, member

of various committee’s for so many years finally thought of running for

the office with a plan. Mainly to look into bringing the Share values up.

My experience in Marketing for over 25 years may help in coming up

with the plan and strategy. What about my association with Bob ?

Yes, I work for Bob and been with him for past 25 years. Bob did not

ask me to run for the office, though I did speak to him before deciding to run.

He asked why and I explained the same That, my marketing experience may

come to use in putting together a PR / Promotion plan to bring up the

share value of our club to which he responded positively. You all stand for

the reforms and changes, I share your views on many aspects but

not necessarily agree on the methodology. I believe I can contribute to the

Club with needed changes through the trust and confidence I have earned

over past so many years with many Board members. May it be Bob

Sobrepena or Freddie Campos ,am sure I have earned the respect, trust and

confidence thus making me do the right thing for the Club. 

I work for Bob, I believe I have his trust and confidence. I also believe I have

thefree will to make my own decisions. To my best ability, I intend to use my

trust and confidence with Bob in bringing changes for the good of the Club. 

Regards.

Shean Bedi   (Gulshan Bedi)

=====================================

Southwoods hacker thanks Shean for the clarification. I hope Shean will not 

mind if I fall back on the old reliable adage that goes “Tell me who your

friends are and I will tell you who you are!”


Anyway, thanks for all the feedback and responses. We hope there will

be more.

In the meantime, 



Fore!!!!



Southwoods Hacker


Newsletter from Southwoods Golfers – Fore!!! (issue.05)

May 18, 2013

Southwoods  Fore 5

FORE!!!

Lucky

A member of Southwoods Golf appears to be blessed with a tremendous amount of luck. In the recent Corporate Cup in Baguio, this member won fairly significant prizes in the nightly raffle held during the tournament.  This was four nights in a row. Assuming 500 participants, the probability of winning a prize in the raffle for the night is .002. To win in four consecutive nights, the probability drops to .002 to the fourth power.  That is .000000000016 chance of happening. That is almost an  impossibility! But this lucky Southwoods member did it! He also used to win trophies almost regularly in Southwoods golf tournaments. Lucky guy.

In the recent Southwoods invitational, this lucky member won again a significant prize. Unfortunately for him, it was Freddie Yniguez who seems to be blessed by the Gods as he won the top prize, the Mitsubishi lancer. Maybe it is because Freddie is the Executive Vice President of Bob Sobrepena’s John Hay group. Maybe he is really just luckier than our lucky Southwoods member.

Proxies

Proxy giving is just a week away. May 24 is the deadline given by the Board as to when proxies for the ASM and election of Directors are to be submitted to the NOMELEC for validation.

At this late stage, I hear of members/shareowners say that they have not yet received their pre-numbered proxy forms or that they don’t know if they have received them. These are to me very concerning feedback and may be an indication that there will not be sufficient proxies submitted to create a quorum for the meeting. It will be a sad day if this happens.

The Southwoods Board states they would like to hold an ASM and have elections. The reformist says the same. Should a quorum fail to happen this June 5, the question will be why a quorum was not achieved.

Your Southwoods hacker has always opined that the Board resolution imposing pre-numbered proxy forms directly mailed to shareowners and the limited time given shareowners to appoint their proxies is not only against the bylaws of the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club Inc. but is also designed to inhibit obtaining a quorum for an ASM and election of Directors thus perpetuating the control of the controlling Directors of the Club.

I pray that I will be proven wrong! So please do look for those proxy documents and give them to your favourite candidate for Director.

I continue to endorse Freddie Campos as your proxy for reasons given on Fore 3.

Arrested

The papers today contain a news item on the Bureau of Immigration preventing the departure of Bob Sobrepena as he tried to fly to the United States to avoid being served an arrest warrant on charges of malversation of public funds.

I guess we have to give him the benefit of the doubt and await the judgement of the court whether he is guilty or not.

But as the old adage goes, where there is smoke there is fire. The long saga of the BCDA trying to collect money from the Sobrepena controlled John Hay developer and the much delayed court ruling on the cases filed against Sobrepena  makes one think that this is not only a fire but a conflagration. Couple this with the similar saga of CAP failing to fulfil its promises to hundreds and thousands of Filipino families and one cannot help but wonder whether this is a family trait. I am reminded of another Filipino adage which goes “ and bunga hindi lalayo sa puno”  (the fruit does not fall far from the tree).

It must therefore be a no brainer for Southwoods shareowners not to entrust Pesos 180 million a year of club revenue to individuals not worthy of the trust.

Your Southwood hacker continues to identify Enrique Sobrepena and Rafael Perez de Tagle as two candidates for Directorship of Southwoods  Golf whose record of service do not make them worthy of this trust. (Read Fore 4 ).

In the meantime… FORE!!!

Your Southwoods hacker

Newsletter from southwoods golfers – Fore!!! (issue.05)


Newsletter from Southwoods Golfers – Fore!!! (issue.04)

May 13, 2013

FORE!!!!

11 of 13

In the event that we do establish a quorum in the ASM on June 5, the meeting should elect 11 of the 13 candidates for Director of the Southwoods Golf club. This means that a candidate, even if he gets only one vote, would still sit in as Director of the club provided two other candidates do not get a single vote.

Your southwoods hacker has been asked pointedly by friends, that given the above, who amongst the 13 should be out of the Board. ( ironic that the question raised is not who to vote for but rather who NOT to vote for!)

I have clear and unequivocal answer.  We should not have in the incoming board Enrique Sobrepena and Rafael Perez  de Tagle. My reasons are simple and are as follows:

1.   Both Enrique Sobrepena and Peng Perez de Tagle are insiders in the camp of Bob and have been strictly adhering to the agenda of Bob in the club, and given that Bob is not running for Directorship, then they have no agenda to follow. Perhaps Bob should even consider getting these two to withdraw their candidacy.

2.   I am one of those who tried to provide for a son’s education by procuring a CAP plan many moons ago when my son was just a year old. My son is now graduating from College without the benefit of the CAP plan. Enrique Sobrepena has reasoned that CAP went bankrupt because of factors outside of their control. Yet we have seen his personal wealth multiply during the time he was running CAP and we have seen CAP funding the many projects of Bob Sobrepena’s companies. We have likewise seen the personal wealth of Bob Sobrepena increase many fold during these period. And the source of their seed money, CAP, has gone bankrupt , and the college education dreams of many young men and women and their parents are biting the dust. I just do not trust Enrique Sobrepena .

3.    Peng Perez de Tagle has been the finance man of Bob Sobrepena  and has  been the architect and main implementer of Bob’s financing activities for his many businesses. The Southwoods Golf soft loan to the Southwoods Sports Club and the subsequent plan to get it repaid to southwoods golf through the mandatory membership dues charged members of Southwoods Golf can only happen through his initiative and blessing. Further, the financial reporting of Southwoods Golf has been truly lacking in transparency. Members are totally kept in the dark on the many financial transactions of the club.

Board Minutes

Southwoods hacker has had the benefit of reading the minutes of the February and March board meeting of Southwoods Golf . They are most revealing. Let me explain.

1.    Suspension of members is discussed extensively in the board. (as it should be, given that suspending members of clubs is a most serious matter ). What strikes me however is that there are no formal votes or counting of votes done and recorded in the minutes. Given the life altering impact of club membership suspension, and where even our bylaws require the vote of at least 7 of the 11 directors for the suspension of members , the board minutes treat suspension motions just like any ordinary motion and no vote appears to be taken or recorded. Clearly, this practice diminishes the seriousness of the board action and opens the board to arbitrariness and violation of the bylaws.

2.   From the minutes, suspension penalties appear to be totally dependent on the moods of the directors. Periods of suspension are arbitrary and do not seem to have any basis except on how the directors feel. Example would be some members are suspended for one year for conduct unbecoming because of verbal abuse, another is suspended for three months for the same offense and still another member is suspended for six months for physically attacking an employee. Our former Nomelec chair Fred Javellana was suspended for one year just because he was there! Clearly, these directors are abusing their authorities and nobody has taken them to account for these.

3.   The minutes also record the board decision to post the list of delinquent shares which totals some 235 shares as February 22, 2013. What is noteworthy is that of the list of delinquent shares, some 25 names were recorded to have no stock certificates. This shows that the Board is aware of shares which the developer has not issued stock certificates for and which the membership committee has allowed membership to the club despite the absence of stock certificates. Stock Certificates are the only proof of ownership of shares owned and it is a violation of the bylaws to provide membership privileges to shareowners that cannot produce stock certificates. There must be an unholy alliance between our Board and the developer of the club!

New GM

The magazine Enquirer Golf reported that a new GM for Southwoods Golf is soon to be appointed. Enquirer Golf identified Mark Watson as the appointee.

From his name I can only surmise that the appointee is a foreigner.

The Southwoods Hacker has been and will always be a supporter of the “Filipino First “policy especially in our own country. For the life of me, I cannot find any argument that will justify hiring a foreigner to act as General Manager of a Golf and country club with mostly Filipino members in the Philippines. I don’t know how you guys feel, but I find this move of our board to hire a foreigner General Manager anti Filipino. There are many qualified Filipinos that will be able to manage our club as well if not better than a foreigner. This hiring of our board is a slap in the face of these professional Filipino club managers.

In the meantime….. FORE!!!

Your Southwoods hacker.


DOJ approves malversation raps v.s. Camp John Hay executuves

May 9, 2013

SunStar Manila by Virgil Lopez/Sunnex

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

CHARGES will be pushed by the Department of Justice against officials of the Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevCo) for failing to meet its contractual obligations to the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) regarding the improvement of the John Hay Special Economic Zone.

Set to face cases of malversation of public funds or property at the Baguio City Regional Trial Court were Robert John Sobrepeña (chairman of the board and chief executive officer of CJHDevCo), Ferdinand Santos (president and member of the board of directors of CJHDevCo and Camp John Hay Hotel Corp.), Alfredo Yñiguez (executive vice president, chief operating officer and member of the board of directors of CJHDevCo and CJH Hotel) and Emily Roces-Falco (chief finance officer of CJHDevCo and CJH Hotel).

“In the instant case, respondents’ delayed remittance of the rental income of BCDA despite repeated demands did not extinguish their criminal liability for malversation of public funds. Again, it should be noted that the respondents did not provide any sufficient explanation for the said remittance. Thus, they are presumed to have malversed the rents due to BCDA for the period mentioned above under leaseback agreement,” the resolution dated April 1 read.

In its complaint, the BCDA said the CJHDevCo and CJH Hotels pocketed the earnings from 16 units of CJH Manor Hotel and 10 units of CJH Suites Hotel in Baguio City.

The government is trying to recover P1.49 million and P2.84 million from the respondents.

CJHDevCo has been the lessee over the BCDA-administered CJH Manor Hotel and Suites for 25 years, renewable for another 25 years, commencing on October 19, 1996.

In 2008, CJHDevCo gave the title of the 26 hotel rooms to government as partial payment of its unpaid lease rentals amounting to P2.6 billion.

But BCDA claimed it never signed the leaseback agreement over the units as the term of the leaseback exceeded the term of CJHDEVCo’s lease over Camp John Hay, which is only for 25 years.

Despite the absence the leaseback arrangement agreement, CJHDevCo did not withdraw the hotel room units from its regular operations.

Instead, it retained the BCDA owned units in its roster of rooms in the Manor Hotel and Suites Hotel and continued to offer them to the public as part of its accommodation facilities.
The department ruled that the hotel rooms in the Manor and Suites hotels were public properties, thus, CJHDevCo officers are accountable for both the BCDA-owned hotel room units and the income derived from their utilization.

The DOJ ordered the dismissal of the complaint against 12 other executives and officers of CJHDevCo for insufficiency of evidence. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)


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