PRESIDENT Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos Jr. was urged by the Quezon Provincial Legislative Board and the Municipal Council of Pagbilao, Quezon to undo the condonation on the real property tax assessment of a coal-fired power plant in Pagbilao town.
Headed by Quezon Vice Gov. Anacleto Alcala III and Pagbilao Vice Mayor Sheirre Ann Palicpic, who presided the joint session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the Sangguniang Bayan, respectively, they forged a united stand to request the President to end the condonation on the assessment of the real property tax of the Pagbilao coal-fired power plant.
The two local legislative bodies agreed that the condonation is “detrimental to the revenue collection and finances of the provincial government of Quezon, the municipality of Pagbilao and all local government units affected.”
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the Sangguniang Bayan unanimously passed the resolution to assert their right to proper local taxation regarding the real properties and machineries of the power plant based in Bgy. Polo, Pagbilao, Quezon and operated by Team Energy Corp. (TEC).
The joint session was held after Quezon Gov. Helen Tan sent a letter on Nov. 17, 2022 to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan through Vice Gov. Alcala requesting the Board “to conduct an in-depth study and deliberation on the series of executive orders of then Pres. Rodrigo Duterte pertaining to the reduction and condonation of the Real Property Taxes (RPT) and interest/penalties assessed on the power generation facilities of Independent Power Producers under Built-Operate-Transfer Contracts with Government Owned and Controlled Corporation so that the province could appeal to His Excellency Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for policies that would benefit the constituents of the province.”
Shortly after opening the joint session, Provincial Board Majority Leader Isaias Ubana immediately asked the Pagbilao Municipal Council members to make a common stand with the Provincial Council against the condonation and put an end to the assessment level of 15% on the RPT of the Pagbilao Power Plant, which he said has caused the province to lose P9,394,280,393.22 in taxes, including penalties and interest imposed upon TEC.
Minority floor leader Atty. Ferdinand “Bong” Talabong, stood and expressed his agreement to the wishes of Tan and his colleagues for a united stand in asserting the right of the province and the municipality of Pagbilao for the rightful share of the local taxes from the power plant, which he said is due to be transferred to the National Power Corp. in 2025 after 25 yrs. of the build-operate-transfer scheme.
According to Talabong, the Pagbilao Power Plant has a total of P6 billion in real property tax obligation to the province based from the Supreme Court decision but due to the condonation order issued both by then Pres. Benigno Aquino III and Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, the real property taxes taxes were reduced to just P1.5 billion.
Both presidents Aquino and Duterte have issued executive orders on the condonation, which fixed the tax assessment levels on the real property taxes of the Pagbilao Power Plant at only 15% instead of 80% as provided for in the Provincial Tax Revenue Code.
In 2016, then Quezon Gov. David Suarez planned to contest former Pres. Aquino’s Executive Orders 27 and 173, which fixed the tax assessment level of the TEC properties at only 15% and effectively prevented the province from going after the P6.1 billion RPT obligations of the power firm, which had accumulated through the years.
Quezon provincial treasurer Marilou Uy told the SP members that the provincial government could include the TEC in the top 40 delinquent taxpayers of the province and could start its levy and public auction of the plant facilities to interested parties.
The TEC has insisted that the RPT being assessed by the Quezon provincial and municipal governments on the plant facilities is the obligation of the national government, citing the 1991 Energy Conversion Agreement with the national government through the National Power Corp.