Negros Occidental officials have jointly asked the Court of Appeals to dissolve a temporary retraining order it issued against them, saying a delay in the sale and lease of the Capitol’s 7.7 hectare property in Bacolod City to AyalaLand would deprive it of P3,575,846,909.25 for developmental projects in the countryside.
Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. and members of the Committee on Awards and Disposal of Real Properties and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in their joint comments filed late last week also asked the CA to deny the prayer of SM Prime Holdings Inc., which sought the TRO, for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction against them.
They also asked the CA to dismiss SMPHI’s petition for certiorari for utter lack of merit and to award damages to them for the firm’s action, Assistant Provincial Legal Officer Mary Ann Manayon-Lamis said yesterday.
While SMPHI’s pursuit of the property in question is purely for business, the Capitol officials, in their joint comment said, to the province it transcends way beyond that.
The sale and lease by the Capitol of the 7.7-hectare property is in the pursuit of public service as the proceeds will be utilized for the provincial government’s countryside development projects in food security, healthcare, agricultural productivity, infrastructure development, livelihood and other social services, they added.
They also said there is no compelling reason to continue with the temporary restraining order or to grant petitioner's prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction as to do so will be greatly prejudicial or disadvantageous to the provincial government and inimical to the welfare of the general public because it will derail the future development and progress of Bacolod City and the province of Negros Occidental, they said.
“Public interest is superior to and must prevail over the private business interest of the petitioner (SMPHI), they added.
Without an iota of doubt, petitioner's alleged "winning bid" pales in comparison to the proposal of AyalaLand submitted on July 15, it was also pointed out.
With AyalaLand’s proposal, the province stands to receive P3,575,846,909.25 whereas from SMPHI the amount offered is P3,112,464,973.00, or P392,459,224.25 less, which spells a big difference to the province as this could be translated into more developmental projects for the countryside, the Negros officials said.
They said this is not to mention the fact that the proposed investment of Ayala is around P6 billion as compared to that of SMPHI, which has been estimated at P2.5billion.
“Definitely, Ayala's proposal is more advantageous to the provincial government. Indeed, the declaration of failure of second bidding paved the way for the negotiation process, which made possible the submission of a much more better offer for the province that will inure to the benefit of the public,” the provincial officials said.
SMPHI’s failure to submit its proposal during the negotiation process on July 15, 2011, constitutes a waiver of its opportunity to present an improved offer or proposal to the province that might have equaled that of Ayala’s or could have even been better, they pointed out.
With the issuance of the Notice of Award by the Committee on Awards and the SP approval of the sale and lease transactions to AyalaLand, the case of SMPHI has become moot and academic, they also told the CA.
The petitioner's temporary restraining order should be lifted and its prayer for issuance of preliminary injunction should be denied because of the insufficiency and/or lack of legal and factual bases of the petition, they said.
SMPHI has not clearly shown or established a clear and unmistakable legal right which must be protected, they said, pointing out that it is not a "winning bidder" technically and legally speaking.
SMPHI was a bidder during the July 7, 2011 second public bidding but it did not win because there was failure of bidding, and it lost by default to Ayala Land Inc. during the negotiation on July 15, 2011, they added.
On the contrary, it is SMPHI who has been violating and invading the proprietary right of the province of Negros Occidental with respect to the disposal of its properties, they said.
The malicious filing of petitions for certiorari with temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction before the Honorable Regional Trial Court and the Honorable Court of Appeals have curtailed the exercise of rights of ownership of the province that work injustice to it causing great and irreparable damages for the unrealized proceeds that the province could have earned out of the sale and lease with Ayala, they added.*CPG