MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte denounced Tuesday the multi-billion tax exemptions granted by the past administration to a power generating plant and vowed that he would not grant any special favors for big businesses under his administration.
During his speech delivered to members of the Philippine Air Force at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, the President said that corruption was the scourge of government and has been everywhere, even in high places, when he took over the reins of government.
“Corruption, taas pati baba. Dito, pagdating niyan… sa Immigration, sa Customs, una na. Sabi ko, sus, huwag ninyo iyang gawin sa panahon ko. But I’m telling everybody: Do not do it in my time, because I promised the Filipino a clean government,” he said.
“It will be a clean government. Wala talagang korapsyon. Lahat na, pati ‘yang exemption of taxes na waiver ng bilyon sa taas. Bilyon ang laro nila dito, maniwala kayo,” Duterte said.
The President scoffed at the waiver on the billions of taxes due to a big energy plant and said that he saw no logical reason for it.
“We have a receivable from an energy plant of seven billion (PHP 7-B). Ni-waive. For what reason? I really do not know. And only one man can waive it. Seven billion, i-waive mo, for what? So walang bayaran dito, basta mayaman, wala. Lusot ,” the President said.
His statements were an apparent dig to the case of the Pagbilao power plant in Quezon province.
In 2010, the province of Quezon and the town of Pagbilao were trying to collect Php 6.1 billion in accrued local taxes from the owners of the power plant.
The 735-megawatt coal-fired thermal power plant is operated by Team Energy (TE), a joint venture of Japanese firms Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Marubeni Corp.
In February 2011, President Benigno S. Aquino III issued Executive Order (EO) No. 27 stopping the local government from collecting the unpaid taxes and essentially condoned all fines, penalties and interests of the tax liabilities.
In October 2014, Aquino issued EO 173 that reduced the real property taxes earlier assessed on facilities of independent power plants (IPPs) dealing with government-owned or controlled corporations.
Aquino said that he issued the order to prevent the increase in power rates.
At present, the Quezon provincial government is again trying to collect another Php 690 million that it said the power plant owed in real property tax.
President Duterte warned that he will not tolerate such things under his term.
“Everybody will just have to behave. Wala tayong problema because kayo (airmen), regimented to behave. Ang korapsyon sa gobyerno ang (gestured hand to throat). Kaya tingnan mo, makapatay ako ng isa o dalawa, tatlong direktor… titino itong bayan na ‘to,” Duterte said. Cielito Reganit/PNA/northboundasia.com