The group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) expressed dismay over the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) granting a Temporary Restraining Order on the local government unit (LGU) of Tampakan in Mindanao from collecting 401 million pesos from Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) for the firm’s business permit.
“The Court’s decision effectively curtails local autonomy, which is mandated by no less than the Constitution,” said Rene Pamplona, ATM chairperson.
He said local autonomy “means local government units are endowed with the power to decide on mining projects that are within their jurisdictions.”
“In this case, the CTA has clipped the powers of the LGU of Tampakan from justly collecting the tax arrears of SMI,” said Pamplona, adding that the court’s decision “is merely a TRO that is good for twenty days.”
“We hope that after thorough scrutiny of the issue, the CTA would uphold the decision of the lower court and order SMI to pay its tax arrears,” said the activist.
On September 15, 2022, Municipal Mayor Leonard Escobillo revoked the Mayor’s permit of SMI, stating that the “description of the business on undertaking that is to be conducted was falsely stated.”
According to the Message for Transmission of the Mayor addressed to SMI’s management, the mining company is a “Mineral Exploration Manufacturer contrary to the assessment of the Municipal Treasury Office that they are not operating as manufacturer but as a general engineering contractor.”
Pamplona said the assessed taxes amounting to 397 million pesos caused the mining company to file a case against the LGU of Tampakan.
“However, the Regional Trial Court ruled in favor of the LGU. SMI then elevated the case to the CTA, which subsequently issued the TRO,” he said.
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