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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, April 20, 2012
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Guv happy COA chief
inhibited self

Commission on Audit chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan yesterday confirmed to Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda that she had inhibited herself from the COA review of the sale and lease of the 7.7-hectare Negros Occidental provincial government property in Bacolod City to AyalaLand Inc.

In Bacolod Wednesday night, Lacierda had told the Bacolod media: “We will ask the COA chairperson if she really inhibited and if there was a formal declaration of inhibition.”

“Our understanding is that Chairman Grace Tan has inhibited herself over the concern that the law firm of her husband is the lawyer for the Sys,” he said.

The Sy family owns SM Prime Holdings that is opposing the Capitol’s sale and lease of its property to AyalaLand.

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Maranon Jr. yesterday said he was very happy and thankful to God that Tan has inhibited herself.

The governor said he hopes the COA will come up with a decision on its review soon.

Marañon, business leaders, and town and city mayors in Negros Occidental have aired complaints against the COA delay in coming up with a decision on its review of the sale and lease of the Capitol property that was submitted to it for action in July last year.

The SM Prime Holdings Inc. has a pending petition before the Bacolod Regional Trial Court seeking the annulment of any negotiated sale and lease by the provincial government property to AyaLand, and for SMPHI to be declared the winner of the July 7 bidding of the 7.7-hectare property.

Marañon, however, has insisted that the action of the province was above-board, and SMPHI did not win the July 7 bidding for the property, because, like Ayala, it had entered a bid below the floor price set.

That is why a negotiated bidding was held, in which SMPHI refused to participate, so the sale and lease was awarded to AyalaLand, he said.*CPG

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