Jul 082013

Bacolod City, Philippines – After saying last year that it wants to “disengage” from the project, property giant Ayala Land Inc. said it is still interested to proceed with its P6-billion Capitol Civic Center on the 7.7-hectare prime property of the Negros Occidental provincial government located in Bacolod.

ALI said that it is willing to proceed with the Capitol project if the court case on the said property filed by rival bidder SM Prime Holdings Inc. is “resolved with finality in favor of the province.”

In a letter to Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Maranon Jr. dated July 3, ALI senior vice president Emilio Tumbocon said: “Please trust that your steadfast support and advancement for our transaction, notwithstanding the challenges, weigh in greatly in our consideration of our position and assessment of our plans.”

“While we are open to proceed with the Capitol project, we remain seriously concerned with the pending legal case as this compromises our ability to acquire clean and undisputed legal title to the property and undertaking the full development of the same, particularly that area subject of our deed of conditional sale, especially since our plans require us to develop the area into components which are intended to be marketed and sold,” Tumbocon wrote further.

“If you are amenable to our suggestion, we are willing to sit down with you to discuss the manner by which we could proceed with the transaction,” Tumbocon, also ALI’s group head for Visayas-Mindanao and Superblock projects, said.

In a press conference Friday, Maranon, however, said the property is now up for lease only, and is likely to be re-bid.

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The 5,000 square meters of the 7.7-hectare property originally awarded to ALI is now under negotiation with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the governor said.

The remaining property would only be for a long-term lease of 35 years, whose re-bidding would be open again for all interested companies, Maranon added.

He noted that a long-term lease is better than a purchase of the property since the lease would only need an approval of the Sanggunian Panglalawigan while the latter needs the approval of the Commission on Audit (COA).

Moreover, the governor said he expects the case filed by SM Prime against the Capitol to be dismissed soon.

ALI had blamed the more than one-year delay of the contracts at COA as one of its reasons in deciding to disengage from the project. It also cited the ongoing case on the property before a local court as a legal impediment in its development of the property.

In July 2011, the Provincial Capitol’s Committee on Awards and Disposal of Real Properties had awarded the sale of 36,587 square meters (3.6 hectares) and the lease of 40,481 square meters (4.04 hectares) to ALI after SM Prime failed to join an announced negotiated bidding. The property is surrounding the Provincial Capitol.

But SM Prime filed a petition before the Regional Trial Court in Bacolod seeking the annulment of any negotiated sale and lease of the provincial government property to ALI. 

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