FREDERICK D. GO, Special Assistant to the President for Investment and Economic Affairs said a Supreme Court (SC) decision resolving a dispute between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and lessee, CJH Development Corp. holds the potential to open up the John Hay Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to investors.

“This development will enable the government to unleash the full potential of the John Hay SEZ and spur inclusive economic opportunities for northern Luzon,” Mr. Go said in a statement Thursday.

“We invite private sector partners to look into John Hay as an ideal investment hub in the northern region for commerce, eco-tourism, and leisure,” he added.

He said that this development will help in realizing the Marcos administration’s goal of promoting investment “by utilizing and fully supporting ecozones, consequently bringing in strategic industries and promoting growth outside Metro Manila.”

The SC said on April 10 that it had upheld an arbitral ruling ordering CJH Development to vacate John Hay.

The SC, through Justice Japar B. Dimaampao, upheld the decision of the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. (PDRCI), which found that CJH Development and BCDA breached their obligations under their agreement.

The decision ordered both parties to revert to their original positions prior to the execution of the agreement, as far as practicable.

In particular, CJH Development was ordered to return the leased property with the improvements to BCDA, with the BCDA to refund the rent paid by CJH Development worth P1.42 billion.

On Monday, Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin also welcomed the decision and said: “The BCDA will meet with stakeholders to map out the next plan of action following the ruling of the High Court.”

In a previous statement, the BCDA said that the decision will allow it to recover the 247-hectare property in the former Camp John Hay, a former rest and recreation center for US forces based in the Philippines. — Justine Irish D. Tabile