Onerous deal

HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - July 5, 2020 - 12:00am

Government seems bent on collecting every single centavo that it can get to raise the funds it badly needs as the pandemic continues to drain its coffers.

Last January, the Department of Finance discovered an onerous land deal between Chevron Philippines and Batangas Land Co. Inc. (BLCI), a subsidiary of state-owned National Development Co. (NDC).

According to the DOF, BLCI allowed Chevron to pay a monthly rent of only 74 centavos per square meter for a 1.2 million sqm (120 hectares) state property in San Pascual, Batangas which Chevron used as its oil import terminal or depot.

Based on the NDC appraisal report, the current fair market rent value in that area should be around P17.90 per sqm per month, the DOF said. This means that the P10.66 million per year since 2010 that Chevron has been giving only four percent of the P256.76 million per year which it should be paying as rent based on current rates.

DOF noted that the rents paid by Chevron over the 44-year period from 1975 to 2019 amounted to only P146.51 million or about P3 million per year. The rental terms were subject to negotiation in 2000 but it was only in 2010 when the lease rate was increased to P10.66 million per year.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, a member of the NDC board, described the lease deal as another government contract with onerous provisions.

After World War II, American firms like Chevron (then known as Caltex) were granted parity rights on land ownership in the Philippines under the Bell Trade Act of 1946. The parity rights were extended until 1974 under the Laurel-Langley Agreement. Under President Marcos, Caltex was given preferential option on leaseback of the property for a maximum of 50 years beginning 1975.

Now that government is looking at every possible source of additional revenues to fund its COVID-19-related efforts and given the economic slowdown, expect the DOF to push its agenda on this matter.

People-center measures

In his first year in office, Sen. Bong Go has championed a people-centered and service-oriented legislative agenda in support of the Duterte administration and has proven to be one of the most productive members of the Senate.

As of June 30, 10 out of 16 laws signed by President Duterte so far for the current 18th Congress were co-authored or co-sponsored by Go.

As an advocate for quality and accessible healthcare access for all Filipinos, among the first bills Go filed and later signed into law is the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019. There are now 71 centers nationwide in DOH hospitals and the PGH.

As chair of the Senate committee on health, Go also sponsored the passage of bills that increased the bed capacity or upgraded the levels of several local hospitals.

Go has also filed Senate Bill 1528 to amend the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, SB 1259 requiring the establishment of quarantine facilities in every region in the country, SB 399 which calls for the establishment of a drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation center in every province in the country, and SB 1228 which provides for the establishment of an evacuation center in every city, province and municipality. 

Other health-related bills he authored include SB 395 which seeks to improve the nursing education and profession, SB 398 which provides for expanding the coverage of the government’s mandatory basic immunization program, SB 392 to ensure that each barangay will have enough health workers with better compensation and benefits, and SB 394 which mandates all LGUs to establish an emergency medical service system.

In addition to health-related measures, Go has also filed SB 202 which called for the creation of the Department of Overseas Filipinos, SB 209 to provide additional benefits and privileges for solo parents, and SB 200 which served as one of the bases for the Salary Standardization Law of 2019 that seeks to give a salary increase to civilian employees.

Then there is SB 396 which will expand the application of the Special Education Fund to give LGUs flexibility to boost their support to local public schools and help facilitate the transition to blended learning.

He also championed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act as well as RA 11470 which seeks to establish the National Academy of Sports, and the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa program.

For comments, e-mail at mareyes@philstarmedia.com

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with