Philex closure looms

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – If Philex mines won't pay up, this town is looking for new investors.

Mayor Victorio Palangdan said efforts to collect billions worth of business taxes from Philex Mining Corporation seem to be falling on deaf ears.

"Naka insulto na," the mayor said Palangdan said if the mining firm still refuses to pay, the municipality will have no choice but to sign a closure order, to end once and for all, the partnership with the mining firm.


"We will look for new investors," the mayor said.

Palangdan said the town can live without the mining company in its area, saying only real property tax and a few projects have been set up in the town.

Palangdan said based on a new assessment by the treasury office, the amount due to both Itogon and Tuba has ballooned to over P2.2 billion.

Initially, both towns assessed taxes due to be worth over P1.3 billion, but new computations have verified the new amount, doubling the initial assessment.

Weeks ago, both towns penned a joint resolution agreed to collaborate efforts to collect from Philex Mining Corporation P1,361,451,514.11 representing business taxes unpaid since 2002.

The amount is a result of a joint assessment of both towns’ treasury offices, consolidating both areas computations piled over the years, signed by members of the council of the towns after failed efforts to ask the mining company to pay.

Philex for its parts has continued to exploit the boundary dispute between Itogon and Tuba by always raising the matter of paying taxes as jurisdictional issue.

Palangdan said the municipality has already sent the new assessment to the mining company last week and will count 30 days, if until they end of the ultimatum, no negotiations are set.

"We will set up barricades already," added Palangdan.

Previously, Philex vice president for Operations and Padcal Mine Resident manager Libby Ricafort, in a letter to both Mayors Palangdan and Florencio Bentrez of Tuba cited four requirements before payments are made.

The letter said the settlement of the boundary dispute between Itogon and Tuba, second, valid and legitimate tax measure imposition and third, a valid and legitimate tax assessment should be addressed first.

Palangdan lamented the boundary dispute is between the two towns which have agreed to split the taxes, in a bid to collect.

"Bakit pinag pipilitan ang boundary dispute, we have already agreed on a solution," Palangdan continued.

As of press time, there is no statement from the mining company.

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

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