Philex sets aside P29M for quarrelling towns


Philex Mining Corporation has deposited at least P29 million worth of its business taxes in an escrow account for the use of either Tuba or Itogon municipalities in Benguet province.
Barangays Camp 3 in Tuba and Ampucao in Itogon are asserting that Philex’s operations are located within their respective areas of jurisdiction. Both are, therefore, are claiming the mining firms’ business taxes.
Ricafort said the P29 million escrow account represents the 2011 business taxes that are owed by the firm to whichever local government, exclusive of export taxes.
“We want to settle whatever are our obligations with our host and neighboring communities in a bid to boost our desire to sustain our image as an international mining company,” said Philex vice president for operations and resident manager Libby Ricafort. 
He added that municipal officials of both Itogon and Tuba were informed about the existence of the escrow account. The moneys can be withdrawn anytime provided there is a clear cut agreement among the contending parties.
According to Ricafort, barring a settlement, their company will continue paying their taxes through the escrow account.
Tuba and Itogon officials had earlier agreed to a 50-50 split of the business taxes. However, the municipalities had a change of heart, and both are now claiming 100 percent of the business taxes.
“Both local governments must decisively act on how they will share the business taxes that we have already placed and will be placing in the escrow account so that they will be able to generate more funds to implement their development projects and enhance the delivery of the basic services to their constituents,” said Philex’s legal division chief Atty. Eduardo Aratas.
He also explained that the accumulated business taxes being claimed by the two municipalities are separate from the corporate social responsibility and social development management projects. These yearly projects are funded by Philex and implemented in the different host and neighboring communities.
However, Aratas said the business taxes owed prior to 2011 are being reviewed to determine the validity of the hundreds of millions of pesos imposed by the two local governments.
Philex has been operating its Padcal mine for 54 years. Their operation’s projected mine life ends in 2020. — DVM, GMA News

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Taraki Lang

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