The blaming by SM Prime Holdings Inc. of the provincial government for the delay in the development of the 7.7-hectare Capitol prime property was brushed aside yesterday by Provincial Assistant Legal Officer Mary Ann Manayon-Lamis, who called it a “matter of opinion”.
“We believe otherwise,” Manayon, who heads the defense team of the Provincial Legal Office, said.
Vince Bayhon, SMPHI legal counsel, who maintained that it was not the fault of the SM, stressed that it would not have been delayed, if the provincial government had followed the procedures.
SMPHI had filed a petition before the Bacolod Regional Trial Court seeking the annulment of any negotiated sale and lease by the Negros Occidental provincial government of its 7.7-hectare prime property in Bacolod City to ALI, and for SMPHI to be declared the winning bidder of the July 7 bidding for it.
Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., members of the Committee on Awards and Disposal of Real Properties of the provincial government, and the Sanggguniang Panlalawigan were named as respondents in the petition.
The hearing is scheduled on April 27 and May 25.
Lamis said they will present General Services Officer Lucille Pines as a witnesses, and to submit documents at the resumption of the hearing on April 27.
They will also submit the name of Gov. Marañon among the witnesses, if necessary, she added.
Pines is expected to testify on the appraisal of the property to be sold and leased.
Bayhon said they only questioned the procedure and sought the legal assistance of the court, “ to seek what is right”.
“The fact that the Commission on Audit has not yet approved the negotiated sale shows that the process has defects which are actually their fault and not ours,” he added
Lamis, on the other hand, said they believe SMPHI does not have a strong case against the Capitol officials, who acted within the bounds of the law in naming ALI the winner of the negotiated bidding for the lease and purchase of its property.
She said the Capitol declared a failure of bidding for both SMPHI and ALI when they failed to meet the floor price of the property that led to the negotiated bidding that SMPHI did not participate in.
Lamis added that the floor price was fixed by the Capitol's Committee on Awards and Appraisal since it is a management responsibility, which was later submitted to the COA for review and found to be fair, just and reasonable.
The Ayala Land Inc. has set aside its proposed P6 billion project in Negros Occidental, following delay of the Commission on Audit in reviewing the deed of sale and contract of lease to them of the 7.7-hectare prime property of the provincial government.
In his letter to Governor Alfredo Maranon Jr., Jose Emmanuel Jalandoni, ALI senior vice-president, said they will focus their plans and resources on their Northpoint project in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, as well as other potential opportunities in the province.
This was after Maranon announced the intention of the provincial government to de-prioritize the Capitol Civic Center, in order to move on and focus on other development projects in Negros Occidental, due to delay in approval in the Capitol-ALI deal.
ALI had hoped to invest P6 billion to redevelop the provincial capitol property of Negros Occidental in Bacolod City into a 7.7-hectare mixed- use civic and commercial district.*GPB