By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
(This story was updated to correct the date of the auction which is on Dec 12, 2019, not Nov 12, 2019)
The Iloilo City Treasurer’s Office will auction on Dec 12, 2019, Panay Electric Co. (PECO) assets for failure to pay more or less P90 million in real property taxes.
Mayor Jerry Treñas said the city government decided to proceed with the auction sale of PECO assets due to its failure to pay real property taxes to the city for two years.
“I was told that this real property tax has been pending for the past two years and well I think it’s about time that this has to be finally resolved,” he said in an interview on Monday.
Norman Tabud, head of the City Business Permits and Licensing Office (BPLO), said their office yet to renew PECO’s business permit since 2018 due to its unpaid RPT amounting to P90 million.
The RPT dues are levied or imposed on government properties on which PECO’s distribution poles are located.
“They were not issued a business permit renewal since 2018 because may dapat pa sila i-settle nga balayran sa city. Kay ang poste taxable sa duta nga ginabuksukan sang ila poste,” he said.
Last March 12, 2019, the BPLO issued a notice of violation against PECO following a memorandum from City Treasurer Jinny Hermano reiterating that permits will only be issued to businesses that already paid taxes.
In previous interviews, Tabud said PECO replied that it has been paying business licensing fees to the court.
According to the mayor, the city government gave PECO some time to make an offer but the offer was unacceptable.
“Consequently, due to the non-payment of taxes, the business permits of PECO have not been issued by the BPLO and when I came in I discovered about it. We gave PECO time because they told our lawyers that they are going to make an offer but the offer was not acceptable, so the city treasurer proceeded with the auction sale,” he added.
Aside from PECO, Treñas said other delinquent real property tax payers in the city will also be included in the auction sale.
In a statement issued on Monday, PECO said it is currently in talks with BPLO regarding the issue
According to PECO, they have a pending case with the Local Board of Assessment Appeals since 2017 questioning PECO’s assessment of their real property tax in 2016.
“As such, the RPT assessment is not yet final and conclusive. In fact, we tried to make a payment but this was refused by the City Treasurer’s Office constraining us to consign the RPT in court. This means that we have paid an amount to the RTC which they now hold,” PECO said.
PECO believes that the once dead issue is being resurfaced as part of a continuous black propaganda lodged by their rival firm, More Electric and Power Co. (MEPC).
“The bigger question is why this issue is being resurfaced now. It seems very clear that this is part of a continued black propaganda being waged by our rival to taint our image and discredit our organization,” they added.
Meantime, the mayor said they are willing to settle and remove PECO from the auction sale if the embattled company will offer an acceptable amount.
“Well if the offer is acceptable and implemented, then the treasurer will just be happy to settle this amount,” he noted.
Last week, Treñas also wrote a letter the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on the increasing incidents of pole fires in the city.
The mayor said that they are waiting for the results of the investigation of the ERC.
“Waay pa sila result but they just passed by my office and they already went around the city,” he said.