PECO finally settles P134-M unpaid taxes

PECO Public Engagement and Government Affairs head Marcelo Cacho (right) turns over a check for more than P134 million to Iloilo City Treasurer Jinny Hermano as payment for the company’s real property tax arrears to the city government. (Photo courtesy of Arnold Almacen/City Mayor’s Office)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

Panay Electric Company (PECO) finally settled with the Iloilo City government on Monday its real property tax arrears amounting to more than P134 million.

PECO Public Engagement and Government Affairs office head Marcelo Cacho personally delivered a check for P134,927,522.63 to city hall three days before the auction of PECO properties included in the tax arrears.

The amount covers the value of PECO properties covered by two tax assessments.

According to Cacho, they paid for the first RPT assessment covering more or less P59 million worth of poles from 2006 to 2016. The second assessment totalling P75 million which covers transformers, wires, and one substation cited by the city government in September 2019.

“We already paid in full, actually for both the first and second assessment of the RPT. We decided para sigurado nga there won’t be another assessment all of a sudden on items that were previously assessed,” he said in a phone interview on Monday.

Cacho said the interest of the first assessment remains in court since there is a pending case before the Local Board of Assessment Appeals filed in 2017 questioning the real property tax assessment value for 2016.

The payment is part of PECO’s amicable settlement with the City Government which will be deliberated by the City Council today.

But City Treasurer Jinny Hermano said they did not issue an official receipt to PECO until Mayor Jerry Treñas has given the authority to sign the settlement agreement with PECO.

“Cannot issue official receipt until agreement is signed. Authority for mayor to sign agreement may be taken up by the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) tomorrow (Dec 10, 2019),” he said in a text message.

On Monday, PECO officials and lawyers met Mayor Treñas to come up with an agreement for the unpaid real property taxes.

But the agreement needs ratification by the SP which will authorize the mayor to sign the settlement.

Cacho said they will wait for the SP’s decision during its regular session today, Dec 10.

“We decided to offer the payment, it will be up for decision. The public auction is scheduled on December 12 and we are hopeful that they will take it into consideration,” he said.

In an official statement, the mayor said PECO’s payment is a welcome development for the city.

“This is a welcome development for us as their RPT has been pending for the past three years. With this, we can properly fund programs intended for much improved social services and other initiatives that would benefit the Ilonggo community in our quest to bring Iloilo City to the next level,” he said.

Earlier, Treñas said he will proceed with the public auction of PECO assets on Dec. 12 if it fails to settle its arrears.

“We will just have to proceed with the auction kon waay pa sang agreement because the agreement will be presented to the city council if the city council will agree then I will be given authority, I will be given the authority to sign then if the city council will not sign then there will be no more agreement, waay na extension,” he said in an interview shortly after the regular flag ceremony of the City Hall on Monday.

Treñas said they are not after PECO’s money, rather they stand on the principle that everyone should follow the law, especially in paying the correct taxes.

“Well, makabulig siya but ang aton it is more on the principle nga ang gamay gani nga tawo nga naga negosyo sa gamay nga sari-sari store ginapabayad ta dason ari kay dako indi mo pagpabaydan. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth,” he said.