Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday said that if the Commission on Audit approves soon the lease and sale by the Negros Occidental provincial government of its 7.7-hectare property in Bacolod City to AyalaLand Inc., the development of the area to boost the local economy could commence.
Ayala officials had earlier said their firm plans to invest P6 billion for the development of the 7.7-hectare property adjacent to the provincial Capitol into an integrated mixed-used civic and commercial district that will combine the center of government with commercial and residential use.
This would make it the new growth center of Metro Bacolod and Negros Occidental, they said.
Marañon said that with Commission on Audit chairperson, Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan, inhibiting herself from the COA review of the sale and lease of the 7.7-hectare property, he expects a favorable COA ruling on the matter soon.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda who confirmed Tan's decision to inhibit, said: “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”.
The Sy family owns SM Prime Holdings that is opposing the Capitol's sale and lease of its property to AyalaLand.
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.
I think the COA will rule on the sale and lease of the property soon, and if it approves it, Ayala will go ahead with the development of the area, the governor said.*CPG