(File Photo)

[UPDATED] The Citinickel Mines and Development Corporation (CMDC) in Narra town filed another case at the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) against Mayor Gerandy Danao for not issuing a mayor’s permit for the company in 2019.

The mining company confirmed this to Palawan News on Tuesday but is yet to issue an official statement.

In response to the ARTA’s recommendation sent to the Palawan provincial board in December 2021 for his preventive suspension, Danao pointed out in an interview with Palawan News on Tuesday, January 11, that it all started with the unsettled amount for the local government unit of Narra.

He said that he would likely issue an order for the closure of the company if they do not settle the P94 million tax deficiency for the year 2012 until 2015.

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“Noong ako po ay umupo ay may singilin po sa kanila na P94 million at ‘yon po ay singilin ng dati pang nakaupong mayor dito. Pinagpatuloy lamang natin ang paniningil dito, sinasabi nila na wala na silang utang sa LGU pero mayroon kaming hinahawakan na papel galing treasury na sila ay may bayarin kaya hindi po nakapag-operate noong nakaraan. Ngayon, January na naman ay kung hindi nila ise-settle ‘yan ay maoobliga tayo na ipasara ‘yan ulit ang kompanya nila,” Danao said.

“Wala po akong pakialam sa sinasabi nilang batas, ang akin ay ‘yong legal na bayarin nila na nanggaling sa treasury, ‘yon lang. Kailangan ko malaman kung sila ba ay desidido na magbayad o hindi. Bayaran muna nila lahat ng atraso nila bago kami mag-usap. Dito po ay kukuha sila ng papel, antimano wala na silang papel ay pwede na namin sila iobliga na ipasara sila dahil wala silang permit sa ngayon, maghintay lang po sila,” he added.

Jojo Gastanes said Wednesday that ARTA recommended Danao’s suspension to the Palawan Provincial Board following the complaint filed by the CMDC.

He claimed that this is simply harassment, citing the norms of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), which provide that no suspension should be imposed within 90 days unless the commission recommends it.

“Nag-file ang Citinickel sa ARTA dahil hindi nag-issue si mayor ng Mayor’s Permit noong 2019 at ang ARTA ay nag-recommend sa Sangguniang Panlalawigan pero kailangan pa rin dinggin ‘yan [bago ma-suspend] pero [tingin ko] harassment na lang ‘yan kasi may kaso din silang na-file sa Ombudsman,” Gastanes said.

In November 2021, the mining company said in a statement that it has no P94 million tax deficiency for the years 2012 to 2015 because Section 133 of the Local Government Code of 1991 exempted them from paying under “(g) Taxes on business enterprises certified by the Board of Investments as pioneer or non-pioneer for a period of six (6) and four (4) years, respectively, from the date of registration.”

According to Citinickel, the BOI gives incentives to local and foreign investors that go into enterprises that benefit the Philippine economy under the Omnibus Investment Code of 1987 as revised by Executive Order No. 226. 

“Ang Citinickel ay naging BOI registered corporation noong taong 2011, samakatuwid, kami po ay hindi namin kailangang magbayad ng buwis sa lokal na pamahalaan sa mga taong 2011 hanggang 2015,” the company said.

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is the chief of correspondents of Palawan News. She covers defense, politics, tourism, health, and sports stories. She loves to travel and explore different foods.