Local News: Prov’l. Capitol to COA: ‘Resolve Ayala Case Now’
The provincial government of Negros Occidental is appealing to the Commission on Audit (COA) to resolve "at the soonest possible time" its review on the contract of the sale of its 3.6-hectare property to Ayala Land, which has been pending before the commission for almost 12 months already.
In his Manifestation with Appeal for Resolution before COA dated June 11, 2012, Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. wrote that the provincial government "most respectfully prays" of COA for the "consideration and resolution of the Deed of Conditional Sale and Supplement to the Deed of Conditional Sale" for the "interest of justice, equity and public service."
On July 22, 2011, the provincial government submitted to COA the Deed of Conditional Sale and Contract of Lease for the sale and lease of its more than 7.7-hectare prime property in Bacolod to Ayala Land.
Based on the contracts, Ayala Land will purchase from the provincial government 3.6587 hectares of land worth P750,033,500 subject to an initial payment of 50 percent, with the balance to be paid on a quarterly basis over a one-year period, the deed of sale states.
To be leased is 4.0481 hectares at P2,955,133 a month, with rent increasing at 10 percent every five years. Ayala will deposit P35,461,356 covering one year rent, the contracts stated.
But Marañon stressed in his Appeal that the provincial government will be implementing the Contract of Lease anyway, since only the sale or disposal is subject to COA review and approval under the provisions of Section 380 of Republic Act No. 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991) and Sections 181 and 197 of COA Circular No. 92-386. The governor said the provincial government has submitted the Lease Contracts to COA in "good faith, not to seek approval for the said transaction, but to afford COA (the) opportunity to assess the impact of the proposed project in its entirety on the economic growth and development of the province of Negros Occidental and the city of Bacolod, in the spirit of full disclosure and transparency."
Earlier, Marañon expressed optimism that COA will eventually approve the contract, since they already complied with all the requirements set by the commission.
He earlier said he sees no hindrance to the approval of said contract since it was already signed by him and by Ayala Land officials.
The governor even set the date of its target approval, first on May 22, then on June 7, only to learn that COA did not deliberate on it because it was not included in the agenda.
Marañon said that as a partner in government service, COA should heed the call of the people of Bacolod and Negros Occidental, represented by their government officials and private sectors, who have supported the project, and believe that it could be an instrument for development and progress.
Marañon said this is shown in the Manifesto of Support of the 32 towns and cities of Negros Occidental, the Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines - Negros Occidental Chapter, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Southern Negros Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Northern Negros Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Labor Sector Representatives, and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines - Negros Occidental Chapter.
"The laudable objectives of the provincial government in this undertaking, with public service in mind, prevails over and above the opposition/s of private persons, natural or juridical, which merely seek to advance their private business interests," Marañon said.
"The delay in the implementation of the contracts is prejudicial not only to the provincial government but more importantly to the general public who stand to benefit from the endeavor," he added.
Marañon earlier said the project will need thousands of workers and this will give jobs to unemployed laborers in the province.
The contracts are currently being questioned in court by rival SM Prime Holdings, the other bidder to the property.
Ayala Land is proposing to develop the 7.7-hectare property into a P6-billion Capitol Civic Center, an integrated mixed-use civic and commercial district, with retail, office, residential and hotel components, and is envisioned to be the growth center of Negros Occidental.*