BACOLOD City Mayor Evelio Leonardia said on Wednesday that the City Government has no plans of selling the Manokan Country at the Reclamation Area.

“It was the statement of Hans Sy, director of SM Prime Holdings Inc., that he wants improvement in Bacolod and we welcome it,” Leonardia said.

He said Sy only mentioned an improvement for Bacolod, but he did not mention the sale of the city’s property.

Sy was in Bacolod Saturday to receive the recognition conferred by the City Government to his father, Henry Sy Sr., the richest man in the Philippines, as adopted son and honorary mayor as part of the celebration of the 12th BacoLaodiat Festival.

Sy had earlier said the Manokan Country can be improved by adding more spaces.

“We will wait for the next step since that was an informal discussion. We will wait and see their proposal,” Leonardia said.

“If it is an improvement, we want an improvement. We have not entertained the sale (of the property),” he added.

In 2015, former mayor Monico Puentevella had proposed to sell the Manokan Country to SM Prime. It was opposed by some city officials and stall owners.

City Administrator John Orola had earlier said the City Government is open to a public-private partnership with SM Prime to develop the Manokan Country.

Orola said Sy assured them that they are only planning to develop the Manokan Country and they will discuss with the City Government how to go about it.

“We are happy because they will not get the Manokan Country, they will only to develop it like what they did in other cities. We will not sell the area,” he said.

Moreover, Leonardia said it was the opinion of Sy and let us give him due respect.

“We did not peddle the Manokan Country and Sy personally offered to improve the area. If that is his opinion, we know that they had proven themselves successful in business,” he said.

“It is our job in the City Government to see to it that we create a climate conducive for business to grow that applies to all,” he added.

Leonardia said the investors grow here and if these investments grow, Bacolod grows, too.

“We should find a formula that the City Government and investors should work together for the people of Bacolod,” he added.

Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran said he is also in favor of developing the Manokan Country, not selling the city’s property.