PB mulls filing case vs SM Prime

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Thursday, June 26, 2014


THE Provincial Board of Negros Occidental is mulling to file a criminal case for malicious prosecution against SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI) in relation to the series of cases the company has filed against the province.

Fifth District Board Member Alain Gatuslao, chairman of the committee on laws and ordinances, said the board members have discussed the legal options they are going to take against SMPHI.

He pointed out that the province, including the Provincial Board, have won in the several cases filed by SM Prime like the certiorari and it adverse claims pertaining to the 7.7-hectare land deal between the provincial government and Ayala Land Inc. (ALI).

"Every time the province wins a case, SM Prime would then file a new case," Gatuslao said.

He said that SM Prime has filed a case against newly-elected board members and Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson when they were not able to participate in the approval of the sale and lease contract in 2012.

Gatuslao said they will give authority to Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. to represent the Provinvial Board in the case filed by SM Prime.

He said they are also studying the filing of a damage suit against SM Prime, but they may go for the criminal case because a damage suit may not affect a company with so much resources.

The latest petition filed by SMPHI, through its vice president of the legal department Edgar Ryan San Juan, is for the declaration of nullity of the deed of conditional sale and contract of lease between the Provincial Government and Ayala Land. The case is now with the Regional Trial Court Branch 48 in Bacolod City.

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.

The court has directed Marañon, in his official capacity as governor and chairman of the committee on awards and disposal of real properties to answer the petition, along with the committee members, including Third District Board Member Patrick Lacson, Assistant Provincial Legal Officer Mary Ann Manayon-Lamis, Provincial Treasurer Nilda Generoso, Provincial General Services Officer Lucille Pines, Provincial Assessor Merlita Caelian, Provincial Administrator Enrique Pinongan, Provincial Engineer Ernie Mapa, board members, and the ALI.

Lamis said her office is already preparing the governor’s answer to the petition.

Marañon had earlier said that despite the petition, Ayala Land will proceed with the development of the properties it purchased and leased from the provincial Government later this year.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 26, 2014.

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