SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/16 July) – The public auction of machineries and facilities at the mothballed nickel refinery plant in Nonoc Island, Surigao City scheduled today did not push through after the Court of Appeals granted a petition for certiorari filed by the Privatization Management Office (PMO).
The auction of the properties, which belonged to the Pacific Nickel Corporation (Philnico), was to be held at the Surigao City Cultural Center.
The CA handed down the decision Friday but it was received by the office of the city mayor today only today through the courier LBC, city legal counsel and administrator Manuel M. Coro said.
Coro said the CA decision overturned the decision of Regional Trial Court Branch 29 Judge Victor Canoy denying its petition for a temporary restraining order on last year’s scheduled public auction for having “no legal and factual basis”.
“The city government already received the CA’s decision so the scheduled public auction supposed to be at 3 p.m. will no longer be consumed because of the restraining order,” Coro said in an exclusive interview.
“As we’ve earlier said, we will abide with what is legal as what we are doing is merely to collect taxes,” he said.
Coro said the city government may proceed [with the auction] after the 60-day period set by the decision and the CA does not issue a permanent injunction.
PMO representative Dante Panti personally delivered another copy of the same decision to city treasurer Rose Yamit and Coro.
Coro said that during this morning’s meeting at his office he told Panti that the city is willing to compromise with PMO.
But while Panti has shown willingness to submit to a compromise, Coro said the final decision rests on the Secretary of Finance, PMO chief Karen G. Singson and even the President Aquino.
“But I know something will happen that ultimately it will be resolved, because we can still make a compromise from this, the city official said, adding it was a “simple” issue.
“Bayaran sila, bayaran kami that is as simple as that,” (They will be paid, we will also be paid. That is as simple as that) he said.
He said the offer of compromise has been relayed to the PMO since last year.
“All the buyers are willing to pay because they really want to buy, otherwise they will not participate (in the bidding),” Coro said.
The public auction which is estimated to generate some P200 million is seen as the city government’s way of recouping a P54-million cut in its internal revenue allotment this year.
Coro said the “postponement” of the public bidding was a great loss for the city “as far as the necessity of time” is concerned.
The auction will enable the city to collect unpaid taxes since 2000 amounting to P230 million.
“Imagine 200 million (pesos) that is already money for the city which can be used for development projects,” Coro said.
Belying rumors that the city mayor has personal interests behind the planned auction, Coro pointed out that in the past the city was able to collect taxes from Philnico amounting to P106 million because then mayor Salvador Sering insisted on it.
“Sayang karajaw jaon na kantidad (That amount of money is a great loss) because the taxes have been there for the last 12 years. So if they say why only now, then they were remiss in their duty,” Coro said.
3 to 4 bidders
Asked if there were already bidders who presented themselves to the city prior to the 3p.m. schedule, Coro said there was none.
“But we heard that there are three to four bidders who are now booked in different hotels in the city,” he said. (Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)