Court junks SM case on Capitol properties

THE Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 48 in Bacolod City dismissed the case filed by SM Prime Holdings Inc. against the Provincial Government related to the lease and sale of Capitol properties in the city.

The case sought the declaration of nullify of the deed of conditional sale and contract of lease for the Capitol lots entered into between the Provincial Government and Ayala Land Inc.

Judge Rosario Ester Orda-Caise, presiding judge of RTC Branch 48, dismissed the civil case on the ground of forum-shopping in a decision dated March 3, 2017.

Assistant Provincial Legal Officer Mary Ann Lamis said this is the second case filed by SM Prime against the provincial officials led by Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr.

The leased properties located around the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod are now being developed. A mall and a hotel are being constructed.

Court records showed the said complaint was filed on May 21, 2014 on SM’s allegation that the province committed a violation of the Local Government Code of 1991, and claimed that the lack of bidding for the sale and lease of properties to Ayala Land renders the transaction invalid.

The province, however, refuted that the process of sale and lease of properties to Ayala Land was valid and the objections raised by SM Prime were already duly adduced by the Commission on Audit decision dated September 21, 2012, and that contrary to the claim of the complainant that the bidding process was tainted, the province had due compliance with bidding procedures.

The court decision said SM Prime committed forum-shopping in the case.

Although the different cases may have a variance as either to party or nature, the ultimate goal is to nullify the award made by the province to Ayala Land of the subject contract of sale and lease of provincial lands, it added.
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