Bizmen ask Aquino's help on botched ALI, Capitol deal-A A +A
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
ABOUT 500 businessmen and employees from various industries lit candles at the steps of the Provincial Capitol on Monday night to express their grief in the pullout of Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) from its land deal with Capitol.
The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Negros Occidental (HRANO) and Philippine Contructors Association of Negros (PCAN) with some businessmen, employees, government officials and other concerned citizens believe that the pullout of Ayala is a great loss to the potential progress of the province and Bacolod, as Ayala is supposed to pour in a fresh investment of P6.6 billion to the local economy.
HRANO vice-president Nestor "Aboy" Evaristo said they might come up with a manifesto which will be sent to President Benigno Aquino III for his intercession.
The P6.6 billion investment should have been translated into jobs and business opportunities for suppliers, contractors, stores and others.
"We in the hotel and restaurant industries were awaiting for the establishment of a convention center which is a part of the plan of Ayala. Apparently, it will never happen again. A convention center is what we need here for us to boost our tourism industry," he said.
He said the group does not need to blame anyone here because we don't know who to blame. The important thing here is for us to express our sentiments about the pull out. Whoever is the responsible party, he hopes that they should listen to those concerns and think about what's good for the province. They should not play around with the future of the province.
This is not simple politics or what. But the people are sad and disgusted about what happened to the ALI-Capitol deal, Evaristo added.
He cited the areas in Cebu and Davao where Ayala is present, adding that the development strategy of these cities is different.
"If SM will say that they will construct the convention center that will house 3,000 delegates, there will be no problem. But with this, we will be waiting for years again for a big investor to come in. It might be that no one will come here anymore. What we will do now? Bacolod is a gracious host of conventions. But the problem is we don't have a convention center that should have been constructed by Ayala when the deal with the Provincial Government pushed through," Evaristo said.
PCAN president Danny Yee said this should have been money for Negros but unfortunately it turned into stone.
If only we could save this, we will ask Ayala to reconsider its position, he said.
Negrenses and Bacolodnons had to commemorate early the observance of All Souls and All Saints Day with the pullout of Ayala.
Architect Chick Garcia said that this is people's reaction to something good that we have lost. Whether it is a private matter and private investment, we look at Bacolod at getting better and getting developed and this is a big loss of a portion of the development of the city, he said.
"We are looking at Ayala putting up a convention center because this is what we lack. It is a pity and a sad day," he said.
“The Commission on Audit should be blamed for this. Why did they sit on it for so long? At least they should have an explanation. They have been hanging the provincial government for a long time already. I am speaking as a private citizen," he said.
Councilor Sonya Verdeflor said that, considering that there was a letter from Ayala Land, Inc. to withdraw from the deal, "I have one thought because I heard this from a world-renowned evangelist Joel Austin when he said that a setback is a set-up for a comeback," she said.
Businessman Vladimir Gonzales has brought around 300 of his employees in High Residences Condominium and his staff at Home Realty Ventures and Country Home Subdivision. He also invited the Association of Brokers and Agents.
"We don't want Ayala to leave because that is highly disadvantageous to business. More than P2 billion salaries and wages will be enjoyed by our people. We lost a golden opportunity. It is very sad," he said.
Board Member Nehemias dela Cruz, who attended in his capacity as the national chairman of NACUSIP - Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, said that this could have been an opportunity for the labor sector to work but was lost because of the pullout of Ayala.
The entry of Ayala could have changed the landscape of Negros and provided various opportunities to its people and businessmen.
But all these have remained a dream for everyone here, like a smoke that vanished into thin air. This could have been an opportunity that was lost. This could have helped the people of Negros and the children to have a brighter future.
It is time for the people of Negros to be discerning and know and listen if the opportunity coming will benefit them or not.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 18, 2012.