BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya- A local official of Alfonso Castaneda town has sought the government’s help over the stalled payment of taxes by the operator of the Casecnan Multi-Purpose Irrigation and Power Project (CMIPP).
“We have not been paid for almost two years now regarding our share of the Real Property Tax (RPT) supposed to be paid by the contractor,” said Alfonso Castaneda mayor Jerry Pasigian.
Pasigian was referring to the RPT of the Casecnan Water & Energy Company (CWEC) which operates the CMIPP.
He said the firm is invoking Malacañang’s Executive Order (EO) 173 that temporarily stops power-producing companies from paying taxes to their host local government unit.
Pasigian said the non-payment of their RPT has denied their villagers of the economic benefits through the funding of their programs and projects.
“We are asking President Rodrigo Duterte to help us on this problem because of the poverty conditions of our fellow Bugkalot tribe in the upland villages of our town,” the mayor said.
He said since the implementation of the EO 173, many of their tribal folks in the six barangays of Alfonso Castaneda have been deprived of their tax share which stopped the funding of significant development projets and programs to uplift their living conitions.
“This is the only means we can provide our fellow Bugkalots the assistance they deserve, being the protectors of the watershed that supplies huge volume of water for the CMIPP,” Pasigian said.
He also cited that the abundance of ‘Ludong’ fish specie in the Taan and Casecnan rivers waned due to the drying up of the rivers.
‘Ludong’ is considered as The President’s fish because of its expensive value which provided economic livelihood for the Bugkalot tribe for many years. The fish is valued at P5,000.00 a kilo in the commercial market.
A dengue epidemic also happened in 2005 in Alfonso Castañeda and Dupax del Sur towns due to the drying up of the river.
CWEC is a subsidiary of the Mid-American Energy Company which built the BOT component of the CMIPP in 1995, involving a 26-kilometer underground transbasin tunnel that diverts water from the Taang and Casecnan rivers in Nueva Vizcaya to the Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija.
Completed in December 2001, the USD580-million BOT component guarantees an annual inflow of 800 million cubic meters of water to Pantabangan Dam, irrigating an additional 35,000 hectares on top of the 102,000 hectares serviced by the Pantabangan Dam. PIA