Local News: On Capitol-Ayala Contract: COA Hits Media for ‘Malicious Insinuation’
The Commission on Audit (COA) has criticized the Bacolod media for its "malicious insinuation" against chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido-Tan on her role in the nine-month delay of the review and approval or disapproval of the contracts between the Negros Occidental provincial government and Ayala Land.
The media reported that the law firm of Tan’s husband is providing legal services to the Sy family, which owns rival SM Prime Holdings, which is ques-tioning in court the contracts awarded to Ayala Land on the sale and lease of 7.7-hectare prime property in Bacolod.
COA Director IV Fortu-nata Rubico said Tan inhibited herself from the deliberation of the case due to what the commissioner calls "malicious insinuations" hurled against the COA and her person by the "local media" in Negros Occidental.
While untrue, Tan feels that she can no longer be objective (on the case), Rubico added.
Rubico’s statement was stated in her memorandum dated April 23 to Gilbert Kintanar, chief executive staff of Tan, that quoted the minutes of the COA-Commission Proper’s regular meeting on April 12.
COA is reviewing the purchase and lease contracts between the Provincial Capitol and Ayala Land on the 7.7-hectare prime property in Bacolod.
In reaction to Tan’s statement, Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday said, "It’s for her (Tan) to analyze if the allegation is true or not. Only she can answer that."
Marañon is blaming the COA for its delay in deciding on the review of the sale and lease contracts. The delay had prompted the Provincial Capitol to "de-prioritize" the project called the Capitol Civic Center, with P6 billion in investments.
Ayala Land has also decided to "de-prioritize" the project so it can focus on its other development plans and projects in Negros Occidental.
Rubico’s memorandum further stated that the COA-CP "noted some questionable provisions in the Deed of Conditional Sale and Contract of Lease" of the said property but no elaboration was provided, nor specific provisions cited.
The memorandum also noted that the contracts for sale and lease submitted to COA for approval were unsigned.
But Marañon said they did not sign it purposely because it was still a "draft," and subject to review by COA.
"If we had signed it, COA might say we have already consummated the contracts because it bore our signatures," the governor said in vernacular.
Rubico further said in the memorandum that the COA-CP ordered its Legal Service Sector to require Marañon to comment on the letter of Lorenzo Alminaza, counsel for Manuel Villadelgado, who had brought it to the COA attention, the pending court cases pertaining to the ownership of Lot 403, that is allegedly included in the proposed sale and rental agreement submitted to the COA for approval.
Marañon said the Provincial Capitol has submitted its reply to COA on Alminaza’s letter. In fact, when the technical team was here to evaluate and re-appraise the property, the Provincial Legal Office had given them a copy of the court decision favoring it on the case against Villadelgado.
The governor said the Provincial Capitol has complied with all the requirements asked by COA so he is "very confident" that the Commission will release its decision soon, favoring the provincial government. "This project is for the good of Negros Occidental and for the whole country," Marañon said.*