Duterte orders probe of Phividec-MisOr tax scam

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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY: President Rodrigo Duterte ordered an investigation of the alleged P2-billion tax anomaly in the government-run industrial economic zone in Misamis Oriental, former Rep. Benjo Benaldo said on Wednesday.

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Benaldo, member of the Philippine Veterans Investment Development Corp. (Phividec) board of directors, has exposed the alleged non-payment of taxes by multi-national companies currently operating in the Phividec Ecozone in Misamis Oriental.

In an interview with The Manila Times, Benaldo said that the President, through Secretary Bong Co, has given the go signal to conduct an investigation of the alleged tax anomaly in an effort to recover the taxes due to the national government.

He said President Duterte was glad that the issue was exposed and a no non-sense investigation could be done.
Some top officials who once served in the Phividec in Misamis Oriental Ecozone might be summoned to shed light on the alleged tax anomaly.

Benaldo made mention of Steag Power, a coal-fired power plant, the Mindanao International Container Terminal (MICT), and the Philippine Sintering Corp. as among the multi-national companies with tax deficiencies amounting to about P1-billion.

Steag belied the accusation in a press statement, saying that the 220-megawatt coal-fired power plant has been religiously paying the taxes to the government since it started operation about 10 years ago.

Benaldo, however, asked the Steag Power plant to show proof of payments contrary to records. He said the Phividec accountant and legal department is now collating records of the various unpaid taxes involving rentals and properties of about 80 companies operating in the 3,500-hectare Misamis Oriental Ecozone.

He added that Phividec will not hesitate to file anti-graft charges against officials found to have neglected their mandate to collect taxes against the tenants doing business in the industrial zone.

The state-run Phividec industrial Ecozone was created in 1974 in various areas in the country to operate, administer and manage attractive economic zones in collaboration with the local government units.

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