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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, June 30, 2012
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We’re not land grabbing

SM Prime Holdings Inc. has no intention of grabbing the 7.7-hectare prime property owned by the Negros Occidental provincial government in Bacolod City, its legal counsel Vince Patrick Bayhon said yesterday.

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. had earlier called the adverse claim of SMPHI on the property owned by the provincial government, a shameless attempt at land-grabbing.

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.

Bayhon was in Bacolod yesterday for the hearing of the case filed by SMPHI against Marañon and the members of the provincial awards and disposal of properties committee at Branch 50 of the Regional Trial Court.

SMPHI has already submitted an affidavit of adverse claim to the Land Registration Authority in Metro Manilaafter the ROD in Bacolod City denied theirapplication for notice of lis pendens and affidavit for adverse claim, Bayhon said.

The case stemmed from the assertion of SMPHI that it won during the July 7, 2011 bidding for the lease and purchase of the 7.7 prime property of the provincial government after it submitted the highest bid against Ayala Land Inc.

The bidding was declared a failure by the provincial government on the grounds that both companies failed to meet the floor price it had set and SMPHI questioned the non-disclosure of Capitol of the floor price for the properties.

Bayhon said they have claims on the property or an annotation on the basis of their pending case against Marañon and other officials of the province.

He also clarified that the affidavit for adverse claim is part of the legal remedy of anyone who has a case on a certain property.

"Definitely it's not land grabbing because we are just registering our claims", Bayhon said.

The property could still be negotiated by the owner and in case there is a transfer of registration, their affidavitof adverse claim only have to be attached, he said.

Bayhon said they are only asking for an annotation and that ROD's usually do not deny them.

He also said that adverse claim is allowed by the law and that they do not consider it as their weapon to stall the contract between the provincial government and ALI because it is only an annotation.

Meanwhile, Lucille Pines, head of the Provincial Bids and Ads Committee and the General Services Office of Capitol, took the witness stand during the hearing yesterday. The next hearing is set on July 27.*CGS

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