BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—A member of the Provincial Board here assailed President Benigno Aquino III for issuing Executive Order (EO) 173 which he claimed paralyzes the provincial government by condoning a US-based power firm of its real property taxes (RPT)
Board Member Efren Quiben said the provincial board passed Resolution No. 2015-1726 expressing their “disgust” over EO 173 which deprived not only the province of Nueva Vizcaya but also local governments to collect taxes from power generators.
Last year, Aquino issued EO173 which imposed the reduction and condonation of the payment of RPT of power generation facilities of Independent Power Producers (IPP) hosted by local government units in the country.
Quiben said that EO 173 also reduced if not condoned interests and penalties assessed on the power generation facilities of said power producers under build-operate-transfer contracts with government-owned and or controlled corporations in the country.
Quiben, also the chairman on appropriations committee, said that EO 173 will make it difficult for the province to collect RPT from California Energy which operates the Casecnan Multi-Purpose Irrigation and Power Project (CMIPP) in Casecnan, Alfonso Castañeda town.
California Energy is the owner and operator of the giant $580-million CMIPP, a hydroelectric facility composed of two impounding dams and a power plant, connected by a pair of 26-kilometer tunnels. The agreement on the facility was consummated during the Ramos administration to address power crisis during the 1990s.
The CMIPP diverts irrigation waters from Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces for irrigation of farmlands and to augment power requirements in Central Luzon.
“The province of Nueva Vizcaya is now suffering the tax crunch brought about by EO173 in its bid to collect CalEnergy’s real property taxes,” Quiben said
Quiben said they are appalled that instead of collecting P1.78 billion back taxes from CalEnergy in December 2014, it now appears that the province has to pay back an amount of P1.2 billion to the energy provider as an effect of issuance of EO 173.
Earlier, the provincial government, CalEnergy and the Department of Finance agreed that CalEnergy will pay its tax due on a staggered basis.
But Quiben said the issuance of the EO has the effect of “revoking” the agreement so that the province could finally collect from CalEnergy.
“When CalEnergy started the operation of the Casecnan dam, there were social problems which the company promised to address but it seems the province is now on its own feet left alone by the US firm,” Quiben said.
He said the host Alfonso Castañeda town will also be reverted to its former municipal category Class six from Class 1, resulting in reduced salaries and wages of appointed and elected employees.
Quiben also lamented that the province could no longer support the implementation of the K12 program of the Department of Education since a big part of the collection from CalEnergy goes to the Special Education Fund of the provincial government.
“We recognize and understand the national government that we are in the midst of an energy crisis, but we cannot be both a benefactor and a victim of this energy crisis,” Quiben said.