Cebu News

Approve permits for 29 branches

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The BDO Unibank Inc. is asking the Cebu City government to release and approve the business permits for its 29 branches that the previous administration had reportedly withheld since 2017.

Mayor Edgardo Labella has referred the request of the bank to the City Legal Office for appropriate action and recommendation.

In its letter to city, the bank management said Labella’s predecessor had left the matter “unresolved” as of now.

“We would like to seek your office’s consideration and approval of the 2017, 2018, and 2019 business permit applications of the BDO branches in Cebu City which remained unacted upon by the former Cebu City Mayor Tomas R. Osmeña, despite submission of the required documents and tender of payment of business taxes and fees,” read portion of the letter.

Labella earlier said that under his term, the city will extend no special treatment in dealing with businesses, ally or not.

But he stressed that he would not mind releasing permits to businesses as long as they comply with the legal requisites.

City Legal Officer Rey Gealon, for his part, said his office will not hesitate to issue a favorable opinion to facilitate the issuance of business permits for the different branches of BDO provided that all requirements will be complied with.

“Surely, BPLO’s head, Atty. Jared Limquiaco, shares the same sentiment as it is the declared policy of the mayor to assist businesses which are compliant with the law and provide for them a conducive business climate free from corruption and bureaucratic red tape,” Gealon said.

In 2017, BDO’s 27 branches filed their respective permit applications with the city’s Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO) but the City Treasurer’s Office did not reportedly make an assessment on the business taxes and fees of the branches.

With this, the bank decided to make a self-assessment of the business taxes and fees based on the standards followed by the city government, as well as the standards provided by the law.

BDO reportedly paid, in a form of manager’s check, the City Treasurer's during that time but it was returned.

Due to the inaction of the previous administration, the bank was constrained to filing a petition for mandamus with prayer for issuance of temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction before the Regional Trial Court Branch 18 in Cebu City since the former mayor threatened to close the 27 branches.

In 2018, the bank was reportedly informed that the city government could not act on the applications because of the pending petition before the court against the city government.

Even with the inaction of the city, the bank opened an interest-bearing savings account in trust for the city government.

During that time, the bank consigned and deposited the self-assessed 2018 taxes and fees for the 29 branches.

In the earlier part of this year, BDO’s 29 branches again filed for the renewal of their business permits  before the BPLO.

But because of the alleged inaction, the bank once again consigned and deposited the self-assessed 2019 business taxes and fees for its 29 branches by depositing the amount in the same BDO interest-bearing savings account in trust for the city. — JMD (FREEMAN)


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