COTABATO CITY – A tax court stopped the municipal government for attempting to levy a mining firm a P401-million business permit despite not even having operated yet.
Domingo Collado, indigenous people’s mandatory representative to the Sangguniang Bayan of Tampakan in South Cotabato province, told reporters on Saturday the Court of Tax Appeals had ordered their local government unit to refrain from collecting P401 million from the Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI) for a business permit essential to its supposed operation in the municipality soon.
The Blaans in Tampakan had long issued a free and prior consent to the SMI’s planned exploration of some US$ 200 billion worth of copper deposits in their ancestral domains.
Tampakan is about 16 kilometers from Koronadal City, South Cotabato’s provincial capital.
Dalena Samling, a Blaan chieftain in Tampakan, said they support the SMI’s legal efforts against their LGU’s attempt to levy the P401-million business permit.
Samling and Collado separately said the SMI should operate in Tampakan based on a mining permit issued by the national government, not from any LGU.
The Tampakan LGU had ordered the SMI to pay P401 million for its business permit for 2003 which the firm contested via the CTA, the specific court for litigation of tax issues.
The CTA’s February 10 decision said the Tampakan municipal government should not impose such a huge amount for SMI’s business permit while the resolution of the tax controversy is still underway. (JOHN UNSON & TONY MANAYTAY)