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Negrenses urged to consider other investors for P6-billion project

By Danny Dangcalan (The Philippine Star) Updated September 24, 2012 12:00 AM

Bacolod City, Philippines — Negrenses should not think “it’s the end of the world” if a mutual disengagement from the P6-billion project in the 7.7-hectare property be reached between Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) and the Negros Occidental provincial government, Vice Gov. Genaro Alvarez said.

“It will not be the end of the world. There will be other interested investors,” he said.

ALI had written Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. last Sept. 13 that they are open to discussing a “mutual disengagement” from the project, due to the failure of the provincial government to deliver the property to them.

The Deed of Conditional Sale and Contract for Lease for the said property was awarded to ALI in July 2011, but the contracts are still pending until now at the Commission on Audit (COA).

Aside from this, SM Prime Holdings Inc (SMPHI), the rival bidder to the 7.7-hectare property, has filed a case against several Negros Occidental officials before a Bacolod court, questioning their awarding of the property to ALI and insisting they are the rightful winning bidder to the property.

Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez said he was surprised to learn of ALI’s pullout.

“I was surprised, to tell you frankly,” he told reporters Saturday.

“If they (ALI) joined the bidding process and they felt it was good business to participate in the project, I don’t see any reason why they should pull out,” he said.

Benitez, a friend of the Sy family, who owns SMPHI, accompanied Hans Sy, the company’s president, in submitting to the governor SMPHI’s “unsolicited proposal” to purchase and lease the said property in May 2011 for the construction of a P2.5 billion convention center and hotel.

Benitez said he believes that COA is awaiting the decision of the court on the case filed by SMPHI, before eventually approving or disapproving the signed contracts on the sale and lease of the said property.

“There’s a case in court that has been filed. Even if COA comes out (with a ruling) there’s a court case that has to be resolved,” Benitez said.

Meanwhile, an ALI executive said they will just focus on their 200-hectare NorthPoint development in Talisay City, Negros Occidental with P7-billion investments.

Emilio Tumbocon, ALI senior vice president, said last week that the 14-month delay in the Negros-ALI deal is not good business for them for they cannot operate in an environment of uncertainty.

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