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Lot sale sows division in Manila City gov’t

Posted on September 25, 2012 10:26:34 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

THE SALE of the property which Century Park Hotel now occupies has pitted the two branches of the City of Manila against each other, with the legislative body recalling the executive’s notice of award and ordering a fresh auction.

City council Resolution No. 137, dated Sept. 12 and published in newspapers yesterday, said the sale was “grossly disadvantageous to the city” since:

• the terms covered just part of the property -- at the corner of Pablo Ocampo and Adriatico streets in Malate -- when the whole lot was intended for sale; and

• amending the terms, thus expanding the area, at the same winning bid price would deprive Manila of some P80 million.

In that resolution, Marlon M. Lacson, city council president pro-tempore and acting presiding officer, noted, among others, that:

• the council had authorized the Office of the Mayor via Resolution No. 176 on Aug. 5, 2008 to sell 22,967 square meters (sq. m.), against the intended 24,799-sq.-m. total, guided by an error in Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) used for the transaction, and that this was the basis for Resolution No. 278, dated Dec. 23 that year, affirming the award to winning bidder Maranaw Hotels & Resort Corp. for a price of P1 billion;

• City Legal Officer Renato dela Cruz submitted to the council on Nov. 14 last year proposed amendments to the earlier resolutions in order to correct area size and TCT number; and

• Maranaw Hotels had sued the city before Branch 37 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila and that the court ruled last May 17, directing the city to execute the correct deed of sale.

In its resolution, the council argued that “discrepancy in the area of the subject property as well as that of the Transfer Certificate of Title are substantial” and that “had the previous members of the City Council been aware of the actual size of th subject property, they could have not affirmed the award of sale...”

“If the present council would accede to the request of the executive, the sale of the property would be grossly disadvantageous to the city bcause the City of Manila was deprived of its rightful and just share,” it added.

It argued further that since the winning bidder had been operator of the hotel, “we cannot help but conclude that Maranaw Hotels was in bad faith because there is prima facie evidence that it had actual knowledge that the size of the property is not 22,967 sq. m.”

Thus, the council resolved to recall the letter of award, conduct a fresh auction, return Maranaw Hotel’s P1 billion and “file appropriate charges” against erring executive officials and the company.

Maranaw Hotels officials declined to comment, while Manila’s executive officials were not available for comment. -- ASOA  

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