The Finance Department said the decision of National Development Co. to close down one of its subsidiaries―Batangas Land Company Inc.―was aimed to end a 44-year-old contract that has proven to be onerous and grossly disadvantageous to both the government and Filipino taxpayers.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said the lease contract between BLCI and Chevron Philippines Inc. (formerly Caltex Philippines Inc.) contained onerous terms.
One condition allowed Chevron to use a 1.2-million square meter government industrial park in San Pascual, Batangas for a measly rental fee of P0.74 per sq. m. a month compared with the current rental value of the property of P17.90 per sq. m. monthly based on appraisal reports.
“This (dissolving BLCI) would allow the government to explore all options in order to exercise its ownership and rights over this prime lot and other real estate properties occupied by Chevron, which are strategically located for the country’s future energy projects,” Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino II said in a statement over the weekend.
Lambino said should the government decide in the future to bid out the lease contract on the Batangas property, it would do so in a transparent manner and on terms advancing the public interest.
“As pointed out by Secretary Dominguez, we want to get the best deal for the government and our people, instead of our taxpayers, in effect, subsidizing a corporate giant by allowing the continuation of a lopsided contract that has enabled it to pay only 4 percent of the current monthly market rental estimate for this 120-hectare property in Batangas,” Lambino said.
Dominguez, an NDC board member, stressed last month that the government should have exercised its rights over the Batangas property as early as 1975, but Chevron was able to obtain preferential treatment to continue occupying and using state properties under the then-Marcos administration.
The rental fee of P0.74 per sq. m. a month, which amounts to just P10.66 million per year for the 120-hectare industrial park, is the rate that Chevron has been paying to the government since 2010.
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