The legal counsel of SM Prime Holdings said that if the sale and lease of the 7.7-hectare prime property of the provincial government will be rebidded, he is not sure if SM will still participate.
Vince Bayhon, however, said he hopes that SM will still join the rebidding.
Bayhon said SM should not be blamed for the delays faced by the project of the provincial government with Ayala Land Inc.
Had the provincial government observed the right and proper bidding process from the very beginning by following the rules and required steps prior to and during the bidding, the project should have been developed when everything was already in place, he claimed.
But since the provincial officials did not follow the procedures, the result is delay in the implementation of the project, he said. The fault lies with the provincial officials and not with them, he also said.
“We only questioned the procedure and took refuge in court to seek what is right and to seek legal assistance on this legal question. 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,” Bayhon said.
Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. blamed the Commission on Audit for the delay in deciding on the review of the project to Ayala Land Inc..
Bayhon said he believes the COA is just doing its job. “It is premature to say anything right now considering that COA will still deliberate on the contract covering the project,” he said.
Bayhon stressed that it is unfair to blame SM for the delays. But they cannot just allow a wrong procedure to go on, he said. SM's intention is really to develop the project so it joined the bidding by submitting an unsolicited bid, he added.
Marañon said that ever since they submitted the award contracts to COA for review in July last year, they have wondered why they have set so many obstructions, and would keep on deferring their decisions and resolutions.
Hhowever, Marañon said, said they are not giving up the fight yet.
“It is up to COA, because the delay is with them, but we have to move on, because we have been focusing our energy resources, time and effort on the project,” he added.
The provincial government submitted the Capitol-Ayala contracts for approval to COA on July 22 last year.
The Provincial Committee on Awards and Disposal of Real Properties awarded the sale and lease of the Capitol prime property to Ayala Land Inc. The project would combine the center of government with commercial and residential uses, and fulfills the objectives of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to finance the many development projects of Negros Occidental.
The SM Prime Holdings Inc. filed a petition last year before the Bacolod Regional Trial Court seeking the annulment of any negotiated sale and lease by the provincial government property to ALI, and for SMPHI to be declared the winning bidder of the July 7 bidding.
The new hearing has been reset to April 27 and May 25.*CGS