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CA issues TRO against sale of prime Bacolod property to ALI

By Danny B. Dangcalan (The Philippine Star) Updated July 23, 2011 12:00 AM

Bacolod City ,Philippines  – SM Prime Holdings’ petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing the provincial government of Negros Occidental from entering a contract with Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) on the sale and lease of 7.7 hectares of prime property has been granted by the Court of Appeals (CA) Wednesday.

The CA 20th Division in Cebu City has granted the SM Prime’s petition for a 60-day TRO, after it posted a bond of P50 million, in response to its petition for certiorari with application for the issuance of a TRO and or writ of preliminary injunction against the provincial government.

SM Prime insists that it won in the July 7 bidding for the 7.7068-hectare property of the provincial government that it awarded to Ayala Land after a negotiated bidding on July 15.

In a three-page resolution promulgated July 20, the CA stated that “after a careful scrutiny of the record, the court finds petitioner’s prayer for a TRO to be meritorious. Hence, so as 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 application for the issuance of a TRO is granted.”

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Isabel Paredes and concurred by Associate Justices Edgardo Delos Santos and Ramon Paul Hernando.

The CA also ordered respondents RTC Branch 50 Judge Estefanio Libutan Jr., who had earlier denied SM Prime’s petition, Governor Alfredo Maranon Jr. as chairman of the Committee on Awards and Disposal of Real Properties, the Province of Negros Occidental and members of the committee namely, Board Member Patrick Lacson, assistant provincial legal officer Mary Ann Manayon-Lamis, provincial treasurer Nelda Generoso, provincial accountant Lucille Chavez-Pines, provincial assessor Merlita Caelian, provincial administrator Enrique Pinongan, provincial engineer Ernie Mapa and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan members to file their comments on the petition within 10 days, and to show cause why the writ of preliminary injunction should not be granted.

SM Prime may file its reply within five days from receipt of the comments, the CA decision stated.

The CA added that within the 60-day TRO, unless sooner lifted, respondents are refrained from enforcing and or implementing the assailed July 14 order of Libutan who previously denied SM Prime’s petition.

Ayala Land in a statement furnished to the media yesterday, said, “as we are not a party to the case, we regret that we cannot comment on the order of the Court of Appeals.”

“We reiterate that Ayala Land submitted its bid in good faith and in compliance with the requirements of law and procedure,” its statement read.

“With all interested parties having been given the equal opportunity to participate in a bidding process that was conducted with transparency and due regard for the rules, we remain confident that the decision of the Provincial Government to award the project to Ayala Land will be sustained by the courts,” Ayala Land added.

On Wednesday, the SP has approved the sale and lease of 7.7 hectares of prime property owned by the provincial government to Ayala Land.

The SP has also authorized Governor Alfredo Maranon Jr. to sign both the Deed of Conditional Sale and Contract of Lease with Ayala Land.

Both contracts amount to almost P3.505 billion, involving parcels of lots adjacent to the Provincial Capitol along Gatuslao and Aguinaldo Sts., and North and South Capitol Roads in this city.

The SP’s approval came even as SM Prime Holdings Inc., the other bidder for the property, is still contesting before the courts the decision of the provincial government’s Committee on Awards and Disposal of Real Properties to award the lots to Ayala Land.

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