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Ayala Land’s Negros lease faces new setback

Posted on September 11, 2011 10:18:19 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

BACOLOD CITY -- Another legal setback involving the real estate deal between Ayala Land, Inc. and the local government here has emerged even as courts have yet to resolve separate complaints filed by SM Prime Holdings, Inc.

Heirs of a certain Gonzaga family are claiming a portion of the provincial government’s property awarded for lease to Ayala Land, the clan’s spokesperson said in a briefing late last week.

Swiss national Urs Schlosser, husband of Risa Lambatin who in turn is a descendant of the late Aurelia Gonzaga-Villadelgado, said the family was pursuing a case for annulment of the provincial government’s land title before the courts.

Mr. Schlosser said their family is claiming a lot measuring over 6,000 square meters (sq. m)which had allegeldy been lumped together with the 40,481-sq. m property the Negros Occidental provincial government awarded to Ayala Land for lease.

This comes on top of SM Prime’s complaint against the contract’s award to Ayala Land even as the Sy-led firm claimed it had submitted a superior bid.

Mr. Schlosser, for his part, said they possess original certificate title no. 2424, which covers Lot 403, spanning 63,586 sq m. It is allegedly registered in the names of Jose Gonzaga, Gertrudes Gonzaga, Aurelia Gonzaga-Villadelgado, among others.

He clarified, however, that the family was not against the transaction between the provincial government and Ayala Land, but wanted only recognition of their ownership over part of the property.

One of the Gonzaga heirs, Manuel Villadelgado, Jr., has filed the case for “quieting of title and annulment/cancellation of certificates of title” against the province of Negros Occidental to recover full possession of Lot 403-A, covering 2.5 hectares.

Mr. Villadelgado’s lawyer, Joel Cabalatungan, said they filed the case in February this year and it is now pending before the Regional Trial Court Branch 44. A hearing has been set for Oct. 7, the lawyer said.

“If the transaction proceeds without the resolution of this case, I think it would be wise for Ayala to deposit the money pertaining to the [disputed lot],” Mr. Cabalatungan said.

“Whoever wins the case will get the money,” he added.

But provincial legal officer Jose Maria Valencia brushed aside the claims, saying the case had been dismissed by the Supreme Court. The claimants merely re-filed the case before the Regional Trial Court, he said.

“We even possess a certificate of finality,” Mr. Valencia said, adding that the re-filing might prompt local officials to seek damages. -- N. L. Guadalquiver

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