The Court of Appeals 20th Division in Cebu City has issued a 60-day temporary restraining order enjoining the Negros Occidental provincial government from proceeding with the sale and lease of its 7.7-hectare prime property in Bacolod City, after SM Prime Holdings Inc. put up a P50 million bond.
The TRO was issued by the CA Wednesday in response to a petition filed by SMPHI that insists it won the July 7 public bidding for the property the provincial government awarded to AyalaLand.
In a three-page petition, the CA said the request for TRO was granted to “preserve the rights of the parties during the pendency of the instant petition as well as to prevent the judgment that may be promulgated in this case from being rendered ineffectual.”
The CA resolution also directs respondents Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., members of the Negros Occidental Committee on Awards and Disposal of Real Properties and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, and Bacolod RTC Judge Estefanio Libutan to file their comments within 10 days to show cause why a writ of preliminary injunction sought by SMPHI should not be granted.
SMPHI will then file its reply within five days from receipt of the comments, the CA resolution added.
The CA order was penned by Associate Justice Victoria Isabel Paredes, and concurred by Associate Justices Edgardo de Los Santos and Ramon Paul Hernando.
Marañon and provincial government lawyer Mary Ann Manayon-Lamis, however, said the Capitol officials had not received an official copy of the TRO yesterday.
The Negros Occidental Sangguniang Panlalawigan Wednesday unanimously approved the deed of conditional sale and lease contract for AyalaLand’s takeover of the 7.7-hectare property.
Ernie Villa of the Commission on Audit who appeared at the SP regular session with other members of the Committee on Awards and Disposal of Real Properties, said the committee members acted in accordance with the COA procedures.
AyalaLand said it is investing at least P6 billion for the development of the 7.7 hectares of government property.
SMPHI said it entered a higher bid than Ayala in the July 7 bidding and should be declared the rightful winner.
The governor, on the other hand, said the July 7 bidding was declared a failure because both parties entered bids below the floor price of the land as approved by the COA.
Both parties were invited to a negotiated bidding on July 15 but SMPHI did not join leading to the awarding of the property to Ayala, the governor said.
SMPHI charged the governor with being biased in favor of Ayala.
The hearing of the main case filed by SMPHI against the governor, and members of the province's committee on awards and SP before the Bacolod Regional Trial Branch 50 for certiorari is also proceeding.
Libutan yesterday ordered the SP members who were included in SMPHI’s amended petition to submit their comments in 10 days after which SMPHI will be given five days to reply, provincial lawyer Maryann Manayon said yesterday.
The judge will then assess if there is basis to proceed with the hearing, or to just ask the parties to submit their memoranda so a decision can be made, she added.
Libutan earlier denied two TROs sought by SMPHI prompting it to go to the CA.*CPG