Below are the responses of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to issues raised in the open letter to President Duterte, entitled “Is Bases Conversion Development Authority a legitimate land developer or systematic land-grabber?” published in the BusinessMirror on March 31.
First, no less than the law, Republic Act (RA) 7227 (1992) transferred to BCDA the lands referred to in the letter to the editor. How can BCDA be a land-grabber? These lands in Fort Bonifacio were transferred to BCDA in order to raise funds for the development and conversion to productive civilian use of the base lands in Clark and Subic and their extensions. Further, Sections 7 and 8 of RA 7227, as amended by RA 7917 (1995), states that BCDA shall be authorized by the President of the Republic to dispose of certain areas in Fort Bonifacio and Villamor Air Base to fund, among others, the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other national government projects.
So, who is the land-grabber here?
Second, to the issue that “up to now, not even a single aircraft or sea craft was bought to secure the West Philippine Sea”, please be informed that as of February 2017, BCDA has already generated P80.23 billion from the development of Fort Bonifacio and Villamor Air Base. BCDA has directly remitted to the Bureau of Treasury P46.7 billion to fund vital socio-economic projects for Filipinos. The AFP has received P31.9 billion deposited in the AFP Modernization Trust Fund Account.
Third, the open letter mentioned properties that are no longer owned and administered by the BCDA since the lands have been transferred to other government agencies under Executive Order (EO) 70 (2002), as amended.
Santo Niño and Wildcat Villages are under the jurisdiction of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) since 2002 as socialized housing sites. The other sites declared for socialized housing with mixed-use development are the Lupang Katuparan and the Philippine Centennial Village. Further, Section 2 of EO 70, as amended by EO 465 (2005), designates the National Housing Authority “as the lead implementing agency and shall acquire ownership of the above-stated. An executive committee, composed of the HUDCC as chairman and the National Housing Authority, BCDA, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, the Department of National Defense/AFP, the local government of Taguig and the Congressional representative of Taguig City, was established to implement these executive orders.
On the other hand, Palar Village is not included in the declared socialized housing sites and still remains a property of BCDA. The area is currently occupied by informal settlers.
Fourth, the area occupied by the Service Support Brigade Neighborhood Association Inc. (SSBNAI) is not excluded from the jurisdiction and administration of the BCDA under RA 7227, as recently confirmed by the Supreme Court in a case involving the property. It is titled under BCDA and is not covered by Presidential Proclamation 461 (1965). The area is, therefore, illegally occupied by SSBNAI.
Fifth, BCDA is confident that President Duterte, while prioritizing the needs of our soldiers, will not tolerate the use of government properties by a few individuals and associations to the detriment of the AFP Modernization Program, one of the President’s critical missions to improve the country’s internal security and external defense.
Head, Corporate Communications Office, BCDA