Barricade looms versus Philex

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan is ready to lead a barricade against Philex Mining Corporation if payments on taxes are not made by the end of the month.

Palangdan said both Itogon and Tuba towns have agreed to settle the business tax issue to the tune of P200 million through formal talks with the mining firm's legal counsels.

However, the mining firm said the agreement still has to pass through the Department of Justice, a move which irked the chief executive.

"Nag usap na ang parehong councils and I heard MVP has approved it already. Bakit kailangan pa ng DOJ opinion?" the mayor questioned.

Palangdan added after the mining firm’s legal team mediated with both towns’ legislative bodies, an agreement and recomputation of business taxes were made and approved.

Palangdan said the move of Philex is interpreted as a delaying tactic. “It is a compromise agreement, hindi na kailangan ng opinion ng iba, it is between us.”

Palangdan said Philex already adjusted the tax payments and started its computation from 2006 instead of 2002, also deducting surcharges and penalties for years of nonpayment.

The chief executive said the amount has gone down P200 million from over P2.2 billion which was originally charged.

Palangdan said because of recent pronouncements of Philex, he is giving the mining firm until the end of the month to pay up.

If all else fails, barricades will be set up in the area.

Previously, both Itogon and Tuba towns requested the mining corporation to pay business taxes due to them since 2002, which has allegedly amounting to over P2.2 billion.

Palangdan said both towns have agreed to the amount if only to settle the tax debacle and move on.

The mining firm has held off payments to the highland towns because of jurisdictional issues citing an existing boundary dispute between the two municipalities.

In a bid to settle the boundary dispute, both towns agreed for proceeds to be derived from the business taxes of Philex to be divided equally by and among them as well as fix the payments to be made by the mining firm in the coming years.

At that time, Philex stood firm in its resolve to wait for boundary dispute settlements before payments citing the settlement of the boundary dispute between Itogon and Tuba, a valid and legitimate tax measure imposition and a valid and legitimate tax assessment.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 20, 2014.

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