Thursday , June 21, 2018

Firm at risk of closure over bunkhouse collapse

CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña plans to shut down J.E Abraham C. Lee Construction and Development Corp., the owner of the four-deck bunkhouse on Archbishop Reyes Avenue in Barangay Lahug that collapsed Tuesday dawn, killing five construction workers, for operating without permit.

If it pushes through, it would mean all ongoing projects of the company will be stopped.

Osmeña said those firms that did not secure permits, including J.E Abraham C. Lee Construction and Development Corp., are tax evaders.

“We will stop his business, not only bunkhouse, his business. He did not apply for building permit, he gets caught so he is banned. These are tax evaders. Our treasury department is undermanned, they have to go after these people. We can double or triple our income if we do that,” he said.

In a separate interview, City Treasurer Veronica Morelos said the construction firm has already renewed their business permit this year.

However, records from the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) showed that they have a tax delinquency of P351,000 but a partial payment of P87,000 has been made.

Morelos said they discovered the tax delinquency when they made an evaluation last year.

Although the firm has records in City Hall, the entity is registered only as a developer under the business permit section.

“Actually, there was another record which we have verified under JE Abraham C. Lee Construction Inc. but with separate address. We will have to verify first if this is different from JE Abraham C. Lee Construction and Development,” Morelos said.

Earlier, Claire Cabalda, business permit and licensing section head of CTO said JE Abraham C. Lee Construction Inc., was registered in 1999 as a firm that offered rental services of heavy equipment.

But since 2001, the firm has not renewed its business permit and it has not paid its dues.

It also has not applied for retirement of business.

Morelos said it will be up to Osmeña to decide on the closure if the alleged violations that they committed are proven.

Effective last March 6, the Cebu City Government suspended all ongoing projects of JE Abraham C. Lee Construction and Development Corp. after its bunkhouse, where more than 150 workers were sleeping, collapsed before daybreak on that day.

Immediately after the incident, City Building Official Engr. Josefa Ylanan issued a suspension order for four projects being handled by the developer.

For their part, JE Abraham C. Lee Construction and Development Inc. did not issue comments on the matter.

However, the construction firm posted copies of their business permit and their Security and Exchange Commission(SEC) certificate on Facebook. (RVC)