By Danny B. Dangcalan (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 7, 2013 - 12:00am
BACOLOD CITY , Philippines --The Commission on Audit (COA) has “approved with finality” its decision to approve the deed of conditional sale (DCS) and contract of lease (COL) between the provincial government of Negros Occidental and Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) covering the sale and lease of a 7.7-hectare property in Bacolod.
The five-page decision dated Aug. 14, 2013 was signed by COA chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan and Commissioners Heidei Mendoza and Rowena Guanzon. It was an affirmation of an original decision dated Sept. 21, 2012 which was contested by SM Prime Holdings (SMPHI).
The COA decision was the subject of SMPHI’s motion for reconsideration (MR), which the firm filed on Nov. 13, 2012.
In an official statement, SMPHI said: “SM Prime Holding Inc. (SMPHI) has an existing petition for certiorari, which raises legal issues regarding the bidding for the Capitol property. It is still pending with the Bacolod RTC.
“The case arises from the time SM submitted the more superior bid. However, the Province declared the bidding a “failure.”
“SMPHI is questioning the declaration by the provincial government of the failure of the public bidding and is hoping for a speedy determination of the legal issues plaguing the auction of the properties.”
Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
On the other hand, the provincial government maintained that: (1) The SMPHI’s MR was filed beyond the 30-day reglamentary period enunciated under Section 3, Rule 64 of the Rules of Court; and (2) COA has the primary, original and exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate on the issues contained in the request of the provincial government and thus, prayed that the MR be dismissed for lack of merit.
In its decision, COA said that “ SMPHI failed to present valid and categorical arguments sufficient to overturn the findings of the Commission.”
This clearly belies the contention of SMPHI that COA went beyond its power in adjudicating on issues pending before the courts, the resolution read.
The SC rulings clearly supports the action taken by the Commission, and SMPHI failed to present valid and categorical arguments sufficient to overturn the findings of the COA, the resolution added.
Based on the contracts approved by the COA in September last year, the deed of sale allows ALI to purchase 3.6587 hectares worth P750 million and lease of 4.0481 hectares at P2.95 million a month.
In its proposal, ALI plan’ to develop the whole 7.7-hectare property into a Capitol Civic Center, with an investment of P6.2 billion, and is envisioned to be an integrated mixed-use civic and commercial district, with retail, office, residential and hotel components.
The center is envisioned to be the growth center of Negros Occidental.
Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Maranon Jr. said demolition of three provincial capitol buildings sitting on the 4.0481-hectare property is set this month to prepare the property for the ALI lease.