In a resolution, the local chapter of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) urged the provincial government to pass an ordinance that would allow local governments in the area to impose specific transport fees and charges for vehicles carrying high value crops, especially those for exports.
The resolution was endorsed by Mayors Ernesto Manuel of T’boli, Isidro Lumayag of Polomolok, Romulo Solivio of Surallah, Romeo Januto of Norala, Valentin Mariano Jr. of Tupi, Isidro Janita of Banga, Ervin Luntao of Sto. Nino, Basilio Salif of Lake Sebu, Salvador Lagos of Tantangan and Claudius Barroso of Tampakan.
Luntao, LMP chapter president, said the move will help the province regulate the movement of such crops and at the same time increase its revenues.
“The provincial government of South Cotabato — particularly the host municipalities where these high value crops emanated or produced — never benefited to the fullest extent from the revenues brought about by the remarkable agricultural development,” he said.
Luntao said these crops are being transported or shipped out from the area even without the knowledge of local authorities.
The province is presently among the key producers of various high value commercial crops in Mindanao such as pineapple, asparagus, papaya, durian, mango, banana, lanzones, rambutan, watermelon and cutflower,
These products, mostly marketed as fresh, land in both domestic and foreign markets.
In the resolution, the mayors contended that “while the entire nation as a whole benefits from the bounty of South Cotabato’s abundant produce, the fundamental principle of fairness and equity dictates that the host municipalities deserve a share of the revenue collected or earned from the production of those high value crops.”
They pointed out that this could be done by mandating traders to pay transport fees and charges to the local governments where the products originated.
Since such duties are not included in the province’s revenue code or other taxation legislations, the mayors pointed out that they were unable to exact and collect necessary fees and charges from the growers or transporters.
They noted that such situation deprives or denies them the necessary revenues to finance the establishment or construction of the needed infrastructure to further boost agricultural development initiatives in their respective areas.
Aside from this, the mayors also urged South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes and local law enforcement agencies to institute measures to effectively stop the rampant pole vaulting and theft of the high value commercial crops.
“These remain uncontrolled as our military and police checkpoints cannot apprehend or arrest violators for lack of legal basis, to the prejudice and disadvantage of the host municipalities and the province as well,” they added.