July 29, 2012 in Cordillera
By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Teddy Casiño calls on the House Committee on Local Government to immediately investigate the abrupt reduction of Benguet’s national wealth tax share (NWTS) from San Roque Dam as congress returns to its 3rd regular session.
Casiño filed a resolution as early as January this year urging the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability to conduct an inquiry on possible irregularities on the distribution of national wealth share from San Roque Dam to the host communities of Benguet.
Casiño cited in the resolution that Barangay Dalupirip, Itogon, Benguet received P52,279.76 as NWST for the first quarter of 2011. He pointed out that the barangay has been receiving a quarterly share ranging from P1,107,000 to P1,108,000 in earlier years.
“…this matter is a possible case of corruption by state officials involved in the implementation of our country’s tax laws, local government code and in the financial operations of the San Roque Dam. Congress can and should intervene to uncover the real story and in the process come up with remedial legislation for further transparency and accountability,” the resolution read.
The progressive representative also pointed out that the barangay officials of Dalupirip are now having problems in the implementation of projects due to the sudden reduction of their NWTS.
The said resolution, House Bill 2098 was adopted for second reading and referred to the House Committee on Local Government sometime in May. Dalupirip barangay officials in their Resolution 125 requested Bayan Muna to seek an inquiry on the sudden reduction of their NWTS.
Dalupirip, Itogon, Benguet is entitled for NWTS as it hosts San Roque Dam’s watershed and reservoir. The said dam is located in San Manuel, Pangasinan.
Katribu Indigenous Peoples Partylist President Beverly Longid also urged local officials of Itogon and Benguet to explain the 99% reduction of Dalupirip’s NWTS. She pointed out that the people of Benguet have been victims of destructive projects such as dams and corporate mining and these shares from the national taxes are not even enough to compensate for the sacrifices and losses of indigenous people.
“The issues on non-compensation and non-remittance of taxes of these companies were among the issues raised during the height of the resistance to the creation of the San Roque Dam. How much more should the indigenous people sacrifice in the name of development?”
Longid reiterated the plight of the indigenous peoples in Ambuklao and Binga. She highlighted the dislocation and devastation the creation of these two dams brought to indigenous communities. “The Ambuklao and Binga dams were created in the late 1950’s and until today many affected indigenous communities are not compensated,” she stressed.
She also stressed that applications for destructive mining, large dams, geothermal plants are still flooding Benguet and the entire Cordillera region. “I hope that the people of Benguet and the Cordillera as a whole consider the Ambuklao, Binga and San Roque experience before giving consent to development projects,” she added. # nordis.net