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Kidapawan mayor not keen on endorsing drilling of another geothermal well

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/10 October) — Mayor Rodolfo Gantuangco is not keen on endorsing another drilling of a geothermal well at the geothermal field of the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) in Barangay Ilomavis, this city.

Gantuangco said the city suffered some P45 million loss when EDC was granted an exemption in paying real property taxes to the city government, using as basis a provision of the Republic Act 9136 or an act ordaining reforms in the electric power industry.

Because of this, Gantuangco said he will not support EDC’s move to drill another geothermal well at the geothermal site.

Reports said the EDC has started paying owners of the land, many of them tribal leaders, who would be affected by the project.

The firm wants to drill another 50-megawatt geothermal plant in Kidapawan City.

The project, however, needs endorsement from the LGU where it is located.

“I am not keen in endorsing this project.

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It was so frustrating that the city government lost some P45 million real property taxes from the EDC because they were granted an exemption,” the mayor said.

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The move to exempt the EDC from paying real property taxes was supported by at least 11 senators, he said.

“So you see how powerful this EDC is? They have the support of 11 senators.

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When the geothermal plants were still owned by the PNOC (Philippine National Oil Company), the company was paying the LGU real property taxes. And now that the plants are owned by a private company, the government has exempted it from paying the necessary taxes,” the mayor lamented, adding the city treasury is now bleeding.

Half of the P45 million real property taxes goes to the Special Education Fund (SEF), a special project initiated by the city government to help the Department of Education (DepEd) achieve quality education by providing teachers and school facilities to public schools, especially in far-flung barangays.

“Where will we get funds for our SEF? How will we pay our SEF teachers? t’s not good to terminate them. Our quality education would be sacrificed,” the mayor said.

The city government has 189 SEF teachers assigned in rural villages, especially at the hinterlands, near the Mount Apo.

Using as basis RA 9136, the EDC is exempted from paying taxes for its distribution pipes, production wheels, administration buildings, and the land area where its geothermal power plant is situated.

The taxes, the EDC said, should only be imposed on the power plant and not on its facilities.

But Gantuangco said the city government will appeal the decision granting EDC and other power players an exemption from paying real property taxes. (Malu Cadelina-Manar/MindaNews)

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