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CoA urged to okay land sale to ALI

Posted on June 21, 2012 09:52:27 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

BACOLOD CITY -- The provincial government of Negros Occidental has appealed to the Commission on Audit (CoA) to act on its request for approval of a real estate transaction with Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI).

Gov. Alfredo Marañon, Jr. filed a manifestation on June 11, asking the state auditor to approve the “soonest possible time” the deed of conditional sale and supplement to the deed of conditional sale signed with the developer.

The documents refer to the sale of a 36,587-square-meter (sq. m.) property adjacent to the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City to Ayala Land for more than P750 million. The sale was part of Ayala Land’s proposed P6-billion development project.

“We have not heard from the CoA yet,” the governor said yesterday.

Assistant Provincial Legal Officer Mary Ann Manayon-Lamis said the provincial government can proceed, on the other hand, to lease a 40,481-sq.-m. property to Ayala Land for P2.75 billion in the next 50 years as the transaction does not require an approval from the CoA.

“We can start already with the lease. There is no impediment. There is no temporary restraining order or injunction. Under the law, there is no need to review and approve the transaction,” she said.

Ms. Manayon said CoA Circular 92-386 and the Local Government Code of 1991 require a review of a contracts only when they pertain to a sale or disposal of properties.

“A lease is not disposal because the ownership (of the property) remains with the province,” she said, adding the lease contract was nevertheless submitted to CoA.

“We submitted it for transparency’s sake, to show CoA the impact of the project in its entirety to the economic progress of Bacolod City and Negros Occidental,” she said.

The deed of conditional sale and contract of lease for a 7.7-hectare land amounting to more than P3.5 billion were submitted by the provincial government to the CoA on July 11, 2011. After this, both contracts were ratified by the Provincial Board on April 30. -- N. L. Guadalquiver

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