Lapu-Lapu to airport: Pay P1.5B in taxes

- Jose P. Sollano, Rene U. Borromeo (The Philippine Star) - June 21, 2012 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Lapu-Lapu City Government is demanding that the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) to pay the airport’s unpaid realty and business taxes amounting to P1.5 billion, despite of the law that exempts it from the payment of such taxes.

This failure of the airport to pay the taxes is seen as the reason why Lapu-Lapu City has not endorsed the implementation of a P5.8 billion Mactan Cebu International Airport Passenger Terminal building.

Mayor Paz Radaza of Lapu-Lapu City, who did not confirm or deny the speculations, said that all she wants is for the airport to pay the taxes due to the city.

RDC letter

Emmanuel “Manny” Rabacal, head of the Infrastructure and Development Committee (IDC) of the Regional Development Council (RDC), sent Radaza a letter asking her to speed up the release of the Local De velopment Council’s endorsement for the airport’s terminal expansion project.

Rabacal said that he learned from Mactan Airport General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete that Radaza is not against the terminal expansion project, but she just wants a representative of the airport to appear before the city council and brief them about the project.

The RDC committee head said that the Lapu-Lapu City officials just want to be informed about the details of the project, because it might also affect their plans for the area. Rabacal said that such reason given by the LGU is justified.

No need for LGU nod

Former Cebu City North District Congressman Raul V. Del Mar, who authored Republic Act 6958 that created the MCIAA, said he believes that the Lapu-Lapu City government has nothing to do if the MCIAA Board wishes to implement projects for the improvement of the airport.

“Ang MCIAA duna may kaugalingong charter. Dili na kinahanglan ang endorsement sa Local Development Council kon maghimo siya og mga projects,” (The MCIAA has its own charter. The endorsement of the Local Development Council is not needed if it implements projects) del Mar said.

He, however, encouraged the airport officials to appear before the city council to shed lights about their projects.

Legal battle

Lapu-Lapu City officials and the MCIAA presented conflicting legal arguments about taxing the airport.

Section 14 of Republic Act 6958 provides that the MCIAA shall be exempt from the payment of realty taxes by the national government or any of its political subdivision, which includes Lapu-Lapu City.

But the Lapu-Lapu City officials insisted that they have the right to collect taxes from the airport.

Radaza said the taxes from the MCIAA have been due since 10 years ago.

The mayor explained said she is supporting the proposed expansion of the airport’s terminal because this will help tourism.

She, however, said that the P1.5 billion in taxes that the city is collecting will be used to fund priority projects.

Among those tabled for funding would be the construction of more school buildings.

“Daghan kaayo nga proyekto ang atong giplano para sa Lapu-Lapu ug nakita nato nga ang pundo nga makolekta sa tugpahanan sa Mactan dako gayud kaayo ug ikatabang,” (There are many projects for Lapu-Lapu and we see the money that will be collected from the airport in Mactan as a big help) said Mayor Radaza.

Radaza said that the MCIAA officials have even asked the city for a new tax assessment.

Delayed implementation

The Department of Transportation and Communications wrote Radaza to seek endorsement of the airport project.

Villarete, in previous interview, said that he is optimistic that the city of Lapu-Lapu will schedule a presentation to the city council as soon as possible.

He said that the city government just wants some matters related to the scope of the project clarified.

According to Villarete, the airport expansion project is one of the priorities under Public-Private-Partnership program of President Benigno Aquino III.

He further said that the endorsement of the Regional Development Council is essential before the documents of the project will be forwarded to NEDA.

However, RDC needs an endorsement from the City Development Council of Lapu-Lapu.

The RDC-7 is scheduled a full council meeting this June 28 and the Mactan Airport terminal expansion project is in the agenda. The airport handles 6.2 million passengers per annum as of 2011, but it is designed to accommodate only 4.5 million passengers per annum.

The number of passengers using the airport has been growing at an annual rate of about 15 percent. — /NLQ (FREEMAN)

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