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Monday, January 5, 2015

Court clears Robert Sobrepeña

The Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) has junked with finality the P1.5-billion estafa case filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevCo) chair Robert Sobrepeña last June. In a seven-page order dated Dec. 19 and received early this week by the DOJ, Pasay RTC Branch 119 Judge Pedro Gutierrez denied the motion for reconsideration filed by government prosecutors on behalf of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), which had sued Sobrepeña for allegedly reneging on the lease agreement he signed.

 The judge upheld his Sept. 3 ruling that BCDA’s president Arnel Casanova failed to establish probable cause in accusing Sobrepeña of making false representations that the company was incapable of paying rentals for Camp John Hay. BCDA agreed to restructure the debt under the lease agreement. The accused (Sobrepeña) cannot be held liable for CJHDevCo’s failure to pay those rentals,” the court said in its order.The judge said the DOJ “made a palpable error of selective prosecution” when it filed a case against Sobrepeña without including all the members of the board of directors of CJHDevCo.

There is no evidence that accused Sobrepeña concealed the corporate records and financial statements of CJHDevCo to BCDA, there is no evidence showing that accused Sobrepeña persuaded, if not insisted, BCDA to enter into the said contract, The very stipulations of the MOAs appears to be a product of negotiations, verification and careful, if not meticulous, evaluation, The July 14, 2000 MOA was even approved by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel and by the Office of the President After paying lease of P425 Million in its first year, due to several factors including the delay on the part of BCDA to demolish structures inside Camp John Hay and to issue the requisite Environmental Compliance Certificate, CJHDevCo and BCDA signed a Memorandum of Agreement on August 5, 1999 where a joint committee comprised of senior officers of both CJHDevCo and BCDA agreed to defer lease rental payment for the second year.

 A Memorandum of Agreement dated July 14, 2000 further acknowledged the delay by BCDA and John Hay Poro Point Development Corp (JPDC) in the demolition of structures inside Camp John Hay resulting in the long delay in turning over possession of portions of the leased area; the effects of the Asian economic crisis; and the need for CJHDevCo stakeholders to resort to borrowings to continue development of the leased area, among other factors authorizing deferred rental payments. At the onset, we knew this was a harassment case according to CJHDevCo Executive Vice President Al Yñiguez. The board was cleared of charges by the prosecutor in June so it was odd that a case was still filed against Mr. Sobrepeña. This decision only emphasizes that Mr. Sobrepeña and CJHDevCo have always been upfront and transparent in our dealings with BCDA

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