Bukidnon reveals Del Monte’s P26-M tax arrears

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/30 June) – Del Monte Philippines, Inc. owed the Bukidnon provincial government a net of P26.3 million in real property taxes over five years, a provincial revenue officer said.

Roger Guillermo, of the Provincial Treasurer’s Office, was summoned to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Wednesday to clarify on the firm’s tax arrears from 2006 to 2010 when Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. told the provincial board of an alleged negotiation with the Capitol.

Guillermo said the treasurer’s office has already issued a notice of distraint or a levy on tax debt covering personal and movable assets of the company.

The 30-day notice, he pointed out, will expire on July 7.

Zubiri said the firm allegedly negotiated to pay only for two years at P8 million. He cited that Gov. Alex Calingasan allegedly informed him about it in a text message earlier, prompting him to ask the position of the other members of the board.

Board member Jay Albarece told MindaNews Guillermo admitted that the tax arrears were under negotiation.

But Calingasan, who is on an out-of-town trip, denied the negotiation in a text message to MindaNews. He referred MindaNews to the provincial administrator, lawyer Jeffrey Sayson, who also out on official business.

Zubiri told MindaNews before leaving the session Wednesday afternoon that the provincial government may waive interests and penalties but not the net of a tax due.

The provincial board, in the meantime, passed Resolution No. 2011-048 strongly recommending the implementation of the collection of the whole real property tax from 2006 to 2010 as assessed in March 2011. They also recommended “appropriate remedies” for its collection if the same is not paid voluntarily on July 7.

Board member Nemesio Beltran recommended garnishment in case of failure of collection.

Guillermo told the board the firm actually owes the province a total of P105.23 million from 1992 to 2010. But a prescription rule of coverage for collection of real property tax allows only five years. Zubiri’s legal counsel, Archie Lagamon, told the board that when the tax due was only P95 million in 2009, DMPI had contested the assessment.

The tax due is for the firm’s lease of lands with a DMPI cooperative.

Lawyer Marco Parpan, DMPI plantation labor relations and legal services manager, told MindaNews late Wednesday afternoon he will seek the management’s comment on it. But as of Thursday evening he has not communicated the firm’s comment yet.

Guillermo told the provincial board that DMPI is not the only firm who owes the province tax debts. He cited telecommunication firms and electric cooperatives. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)