‘Nullify Capitol-ALI 7.7-hectare land deal’

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014


PROPERTY giant SM Prime Holdings Incorporated (SMPHI) filed another civil case seeking to nullify the sale and lease of the 7.7-hectare property of the Province of Negros Occidental to Ayala Land Incorporated (ALI).

The petition for the declaration of nullity of the deed of conditional sale and contract of lease between the Provincial Government and ALI was filed by Edgar Ryan San Juan, vice president of the SMPHI Legal Department, before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Bacolod City on May 21, and the case was raffled off to the RTC Branch 48 on May 26.

Relative to the case, the court has issued summons to Gov. Alfredo Maranon Jr. in his official capacity as governor and chairman of the Committee on Awards and Disposal of Real Properties as well as to its members, including Third District Board Member Patrick Lacson, Assistant Provincial Legal Officer Mary Ann Manayon-Lamis, Provincial Treasurer Nilda Generoso, Provincial GeneralServices Officer Lucille Pines, Provincial Assessor Merlita Caelian, Provincial Administrator Enrique Pinongan, Provincial Engineer Ernie Mapa, the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, and the ALI.

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The court gave them 15 days to answer the case.

Based on court records, the SMPHI claimed that the Province of Negros Occidental through the governor and the committee on awards and disposal of real properties, fraudulently circumvented the law on disposition and lease of local government owned real estate by executing the deed of conditional sale and contract of lease in favor of ALI for the 7.7-hectare property.

SMPHI also pointed out that it has submitted unsolicited proposal to the governor to lease the province-owned properties and use it as the site of the construction of a world-class business and technology park, with the company placing the cost of its proposed development at no less than P2 billion.

The filing of another civil case by SMPHI came despite the dismissal of several claims and cases they filed against the Capitol and ALI property deal.

The Land Registration Authority (LRA) denied SMPHI's appeal on March 27, 2014 over its adverse claim on the 39 lots owned by the Province covered by the deed of sale and contract of lease.

RTC Branch 59 Judge Estefanio Libutan Jr. had also dismissed for lack of merit the certiorari filed by SMPHI against the Provincial Government on their assertion that they won the first bidding held for the sale and lease of the said Capitol properties.

Other cases pertaining to the land deal were also filed and dismissed by the Court of Appeals.

Litigant suit

Meanwhile, Marañon is unfazed by the filing of another civil case by SM Prime.

The governor told reporters in Moises Padilla on Tuesday that if SM Prime will not stop filing cases against the Provincial Government, the province will also file a damage suit against them.

“It will be a litigant suit, it will be the people of the province that will file the case,” Marañon said.

He said this is because it is the people of the province who are adversely affected by the SMPHI’s move of filing of cases against the Provincial Government.

The governor said he will seek billions in damages because the previous case filed by SMPHI has derailed the development program of the provincial government intended for the poor especially those in the countryside.

He explained that a litigant suit has no filing fee.

Marañon said the development project of ALI on the leased property will continue despite the case.

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

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