I READ in social media that SM Prime Holdings, the largest mall operator in the country, has “soft-opened” its 7th and the biggest mall in Tianjin, China. The company has six malls in the People’s Republic of China located in Xiamen, Jinjang, Chengdu, Suzhou, Chongging and Zibo. The company operates 58 malls and supermarkets in the Philippines.

The mall in Tianjin, a major port city in the northeastern part of China, is the biggest so far with a total land area of 565,000 square meters (roughly 56 hectares), bigger than SM Mega Mall in Mandaluyong and Mall of Asia in Pasay. It is twice bigger than SM City Cebu at the North Reclamation Area.

We should be proud that a Filipino-owned company is able to penetrate the international market. Unfortunately here in Cebu, the company is not welcome and is being harassed by the Cebu City Government because it allegedly under-declared the land area in its SM Seaside Mall at the South Road Properties (SRP).

The “former political has-been” called the company owners “cheats” and tax evaders. He claimed that the company “cheated” the local government by not honestly declaring the land areas in the mall’s basement, pavement and roof deck. A criminal complaint has been filed against SM’s billionaire-owners before the city prosecutor’s office.

Would you believe that a reputable company will commit this anomaly so it can “cheat” the government of taxes? I can’t believe it. But if indeed there were “minor discrepancies” in their declaration, I think these were not intentional and can easily be corrected by imposing the proper assessment and taxes.

I think the company is willing to comply with its tax obligations. But because of his ill-motive and personal agenda, the “former political has-been” wants the owners to be sent to jail.

SM Prime Holdings, together with Filinvest and Ayala Land Inc., are now the targets of his “personal crusade” because these companies refused to heed his request not to buy lots at the SRP during the administration of “has-been” mayor Michael Rama.

Also hit are these companies’ affiliates. Reports say that the 26 branches of Banco De Oro (BDO), an affiliates of SM Prime Holdings, may be closed following the non-renewal of their business permits by City Hall. Without business permit, the banks are considered operating illegally and can be closed anytime.

BDO Magallanes branch was sued before the City Prosecutor’s Office for allegedly under-declaring its annual gross income. But granting that the branch committed such a violation why include the other branches? Did the other BDO branches also “cheat” the local government by not honestly declaring their income and by not paying their tax obligations religiously? Morag unfair man ni.

If BDO Magallanes branch “cheated” the government of its tax obligation, then throw the book at them. File a case against the bank management. But do not close the branch, much more the other branches that did not commit any violation. If all BDO branches are closed, what will happen to their employees?

Morag sobra naman nga panggukod kining iyang gihimo. Ambot og motuo ba kaha ni siya og karma o gaba? Ang gaba dili lang moigo sa tawo nga hingtungdan. Usahay adto sa anak ug sa apo.