Panay Electric settles taxes, moves to stop auction of properties

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 10 2019 01:13 PM

MANILA -- Panay Electric Co said it paid on Monday some P135 million in real property taxes to the Iloilo City government, giving officials "no reason" to auction off its properties on Dec. 12.

The P134,927,522.63 accounts for real property tax liabilities from 2006 to 2019, PECO said in a statement. The amount excludes interests and penalties.

"Now that PECO has paid the tax liabilities assessed by the city government of Iloilo, there is no more reason to proceed with the planned auction of the company's properties on Dec. 12," said PECO Head of Public Engagement and Government Affairs Marcelo Cacho.

The Dec. 12 auction was supposed to cover the Panay power distributor's real property tax liabilities, the company said. PECO is "determined" to settle its liabilities "since the start," Cacho said.

"Those who want to take over our services through whatever means at their disposal--ethical or otherwise--wanted to participate in the planned auction because they wanted to take shortcuts in acquiring power distribution assets," Cacho revealed.

PECO operated in Panay for 95 years and efforts to renew its franchise failed. Billionaire Enrique Razon's MORE Electric secured a franchise for the area in February.

Last week, PECO asked the Supreme Court to lift its temporary restraining order on a lower court's ruling that declared portions of MORE's franchise as unconstitutional.

"With this, we can properly fund programs intended for much improved social services and other initiatives that would benefit the Ilonggo community in our quest to bringing Iloilo City to the next level," Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said of PECO's tax payment.

Around P60 million of the P135 million payment accounted for PECO's real property tax obligations to the LGU under the Tax Declarations subject of the case with the Local Board of Assessment Appeals or LBAA. The remaining P75 million was payment for a second LBAA case.

In the second LBAA case, PECO said it was assessed to pay 10 years' worth of back taxes without being given a "proper breakdown."

"PECO never opposed the paying of new property taxes. We just wanted clarification on why suddenly we get slapped with an unfair ten-year back-tax assessment," Cacho said. 

ABS-CBN Corp's sister company, First Philippine Holdings, is a minority stakeholder in PECO.