Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday said the Negros Occidental provincial government will honor its d eed of conditional sale and lease contract with AyalaLand Inc. (ALI) covering its 7.7-hectare property at Gatuslao Street in Bacolod City that were signed in April last year.
The governor issued this assurance after ALI president and chief operating officer Antonino Aquino and senior vice president and VisMin Group head Emilio Tumbucon met with him Tuesday to convey their interest in pursuing the project.
“Ayala Land is open to proceed with discussions on the Bacolod Capitol project but remains concerned with its pending legal case as this will compromise its ability to obtain the necessary legal requirements to undertake the full development of the property,” ALI said in a statement sent to the DAILY STAR yesterday.
“The company appreciates the Negrenses' continued trust and confidence and will pursue projects that will be of great benefit to the province of Negros Occidental,” it added.
Marañon said the delay in the purchase and lease of the property by ALI has been caused by the pending case filed by SM Prime Holdings against the provincial government before the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod, questioning the manner in which the 7.7-hectrare property was awarded to ALI, which he has stressed, did not violate the law.
Marañon said he expects a court ruling on the case soon.
Assistant Provincial Legal Officer Mary Ann Manayon-Lamis said yesterday that a hearing is set on July 26 and she is not sure if SMPH will present rebuttal evidence. If it does not, both parties will submit their memoranda and the case will be submitted for resolution, she said.
In September last year, ALI announced that it was withdrawing its P6 billion development plan on the 7.7-hectare provincial government property because of “delays and legal disputes that continue to threaten its implementation.”
As a consequence, the governor said the provincial government was in talks with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas that was interested in buying 5,000 square meters of the 7.7-hectare property. The rest of the property would no longer be put up for sale, it would be rebidded for lease only, he said.
But yesterday, he said the provincial government would have to honor the contract it had signed with ALI as it was still in force.
ALI had asked to disengage from the project and we asked them to reconsider, so the contract had not been rescinded, he said.
The provincial government, in a deed of sale signed April 27, 2012 with ALI, agreed to the sale of 36,587 square meters of its property at Gatuslao Street behind l for P750,033,500, and in a separate contract, to the lease of its 40,481 square meters at P2,955,133 a month, with rent escalating at 10 percent every five years.
AyalaLand vice president Joel Luna, who presented his firm's plan for the 7.7 hectares in 2011, said they were proposing the development of an integrated mixed-use civic and commercial district that will combine the center of government with commercial and residential uses, making it the growth center of Metro Bacolod and Negros Occidental. *CPG