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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, June 28, 2012
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SMPHI hits ROD ruling;
It’s land grabbing:  guv


Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday called the adverse claim of SM Prime Holdings Inc. on the Capitol’s 7.7-hectare prime property in Bacolod City, a shameless attempt at land-grabbing.

They know there was no basis for their claim and any fourth year law student could have told them that, the governor said.

The Bacolod Register of Deeds recently denied the adverse claim of SMPHI on the property, which is up for sale and lease by the provincial government to Ayala Land Inc.

The sale and lease has been delayed by the failure of the Commission on Audit to come up with a decision on its review of the Capitol’s lease contract and deed of sale with ALI.

COA Director Rolando Macale yesterday said a review of the lease contract and deed of sale had been ordered but he could not say yet when a decision would be made.

SMPHI has insisted that it was the rightful winner of the bid for the lease and sale of the property, but the Capitol maintains that proper procedure was followed when it was awarded to ALI after it submitted a negotiated bid.

In denying the registration of the Notice of Lis Pendens (adverse claims), filed by SMPHI on March 23 this year, Bonifacio Lamberto Kho said, “The undersigned Registrar of Deeds is not fully convinced of the opinion of the adverse claimant that the latter has a direct claim on the properties of the registered owner, merely based on good reasons of the adverse claimant”.

Kho said the propriety of bidding conducted by the Bidding Committee on Awards and Disposal of the province of Negros Occidental is the main issue of the matter and the Office of the Register of Deeds of Bacolod City has nothing to do with it.

Therefore, the request for annotation of the adverse claim is denied, he added.

SMPHI, in a press release, yesterday branded as misleading the Bacolod City ROD decision denying SMPHI’s adverse claim on the 7.7-hectare prime property.

Vincent Patrick Bayhon, SMPHI counsel, said the report that came out on the matter both refer to the request for notice of lis pendens and the later request for annotation of adverse claim, which are two separate matters and based on different provisions of PD 1529.

“For the adverse claim, it is the ministerial duty of the RD to annotate it, yet he chose not to without any legal basis,” Bayhon said after elevating the denial of the annotation of the adverse claim to the Land Registration Authority (LRA).

“The notice of appeal to the LRA is required to be annotated, likewise, on the titles by the RD of Bacolod. Yet, it appears that, as of today, the RD has not done so. We gave notice to the RTD that we were appealing the denial as early as May 30 and the RD has still not annotated it”, he said.

“It is highly questionable that SM Prime’s right to have its claims annotated on the titles is being denied without legal basis,” he added.

Bayhon, in a letter earlier from the Puno & Puno Law Offices to the Registrar of Deeds-Bacolod City, said the unjustified refusal to register the notice of lis pendens has deprived SMPHI of its right to give notice to third persons of its interest in the properties.

“There is no other provision in PD 1529 for registering SMPHI’s interest in the properties but through the registration of the Affidavit of Adverse Claim,” Bayhon stressed.

Meanwhile, while awaiting the COA ruling on the Capitol’s sale and lease of its property, ALI is preparing the plans and engineering work for its planned construction on the 7.7 hectare property, Marañon said.

The provincial government is still waiting for an answer from the COA, he added.*CPG

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