Ayala to continue P6.2-B Capitol project

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014


AYALA Land Inc. (ALI) has reaffirmed its commitment to proceed with its proposed P6.2-billion development of the 7.7-hectare property of the Provincial Government in Bacolod.

Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said in a press conference Monday that ALI's decision to proceed with the billion-peso development was confirmed in a meeting between ALI representatives and assistant provincial legal officer Mary Ann Manayon-Lamis in Makati last February 13.

In the meeting, which the governor described as "successful and highly productive," ALI reiterated its commitment to the people of Negros Occidental to "develop the proposed Capitol Civic Center which is envisioned as the growth center of the whole province."

"ALI will conduct technical due diligence as the properties are turned over for development," he said.

Essentially, though, ALI will develop the 7.7-hectare property into an integrated, mixed-use civic and commercial township, combining the center of government with commercial and residential area, he said.

But since it has been more than two years from the time ALI won the bid, the contracts will be reviewed among other things with the lease portion slated for earlier development, the governor added.

ALI and the Provincial Capitol signed the Contract for Lease of 4.0481 hectares and Deed of Conditional Sale of 3.6587 hectares of the property adjacent to the Provincial Capitol buildings.

However, the project was stalled for more than two years when SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI) filed a case in court against the Provincial Capitol's Committee on Awards and Disposal of Real Properties, headed by the governor.

SMPHI had filed a petition for certiorari on July 13, 2011 against the Committee on Awards that declared a failure of bidding of the said properties on July 7, 2011. SMPHI insisted it won the said bidding.

But last month, the court ruled in favor of the Provincial Capitol. In his 22-page decision dated January 23, 2014, Regional Trial Court-Branch 50 Judge Estefanio Libutan Jr. said "the court finds no evidence to prove that respondents gravely abused their discretion in an arbitrary and despotic manner" in awarding the contracts to ALI.

"We gave won and nothing will ever take that away from us," the governor said on Monday.

The governor said they are very happy that the people of Negros will finally enjoy the fruits of their labor after two years of enduring the challenges made by SMPHI that included:

1) SMPHI's appeal for a temporary restraining order (TRO) at the Regional Trial Court to stop the Provincial Capitol from conducting the July 15, 2011 negotiation which was denied in favor of the province;

2) SMPHI's appeal for the Court of Appeals to enjoin the negotiation and to nullify the negotiated contracts of the provincial government with ALI which was also denied with finality on September 12, 2012;

3) An uncalled claim of the Provincial Capitol properties at the Register of Deeds that was rejected sometime in 2012.

4) At the Commission on Audit, the contracts between the a province of Negros occidental and ALI was finally approved in Decision No. 2012-147 on September 21, 2012

5) and lately, the RTC decision of January 23,2014 "finally freed us from the bondage" so to speak and cleared ALI to proceed with the Capitol project, Marañon said.

"ALI's investments will not only generate greater business from tourism, trade and commerce but will also result in increased employment and incomes, enhanced educational opportunities for our children and more food supply and better nourishment for our families," the governor added.

Marañon said ALI have started last week soil boring tests on to evaluate the soil underground and determine its contents before building the foundation, which is necessary, especially for high-rise buildings. (Sun.Star Bacolod)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 18, 2014.

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