The Bacolod Regional Trial Court has reset the hearing scheduled yesterday on the petition for the nullification filed by SM Prime Holdings Inc. on the contract for the sale and purchase of the 7.7-hectare prime property of the Negros Occidental provincial government to Ayala Land, Inc.
SMPHI had filed a petition last year before the RTC seeking the annulment of any negotiated sale and lease by the provincial government property to ALI, and for SMPHI to be declared the winning bidder of the July 7 bidding.
Judge Estefanio Libutan of RTC Branch 50 has set the hearing of the case to June 29, after Mary Ann Lamis, counsel for the provincial officials, filed a motion to reset it.
A doctor’s certification was submitted before the court that Lamis had gastroenteritis.
Vince Patrick Bayhon, counsel for SMPHI, said they were supposed to cross examine the witness of the defense yesterday.
Bayhon said they will protect the interest of SMPHI whatever decision the Commission on Audit central office will make on the contract between Provincial Capitol and ALI. “It is the discretion of COA now to decide on the matter”, he said.
He pointed out that once COA’s decision will be favorable to the contract, then they will find appropriate legal remedies available.
Bayhon said they have also received information that COA was supposed to come out with the decision last May 22.
However, Board Member Salvador Escalante said that a commissioner of COA had left for abroad and only returned yesterday.
SM is insisting that it won in the first bidding conducted in July 7, 2011 for the sale and purchase of the capitol properties however it was declared a failure by the provincial Bids and Awards Committee.
It also has a pending Motion for Reconsideration before the Court of Appeals decision on the injunction it had filed.
Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., on the other hand, said he expects the COA en banc to approve the awards contract during their meeting on June 3 or 4.
Marañon submitted the contracts to COA for review in July 22 last year.
A COA technical team was created to evaluate and re-appraise the value of the property that is the subject of a deed of sale and contract of lease between the provincial government and Ayala Land Inc.
The Provincial Committee on Awards and Disposal of Real Properties awarded the sale and lease of the Capitol prime property to Ayala Land Inc. The project would combine the center of government with commercial and residential uses, and fulfills the objectives of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to finance the many development projects of Negros Occidental.*CGS