BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan ordered members of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) to provide security to employees of the city permits and licensing division who were assigned to conduct assessment, evaluation and validation of businesses inside the 247-hectare John Hay Special Economic Zone which had been operating without business permits issued by the city government.
The local chief executive issued the order after permits and licensing officers of the city government complained that personnel and security guards of the John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC) refused to allow them to enter into the special economic zone to conduct an inventory on the actual number of business establishments doing business inside the zone which do not have the required business permits.
Domogan questioned JHMC personnel and security guards on their basis why they do not allow city employees to conduct an inspection of the businesses operating inside the special economic zone when in fact the local government is authorized to collect business taxes from locators inside John Hay pursuant to the provisions of the Local Government code of the Philippines.
“JHMC cannot invoke that businesses operating inside the economic zone are exempted from securing their respective business permits because it is not part of the privileges granted by law to operators of the economic zone that they will not be covered by permits issued by host local governments,” Domogan stressed.
He claimed the State-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) tried to question an earlier order from the previous administration requiring business establishments operating in the economic zone to secure their business permits from the local government but the corporation lost their case in the lower courts.
Considering that the issue is pending before the Supreme Court (SC), he pointed out JHMC cannot invoke that businesses operating in the special economic zone should not secure business permits from the city government because it is part of the exemptions granted to the locators by law.
However, Domogan argued the SC has not yet rendered its final decision on the issue that is why JHMC personnel have no basis in preventing city hall workers from doing their job in inspecting the operation of businesses inside the camp and collecting the appropriate business taxes from the locators doing business.
It can be recalled that several personnel of the city permits and licensing office were prevented from conducting an inspection within the special economic zone to assess the operation of the locators and for the city government to collect the required business taxes from them.
He cited the city government will not allow the locators inside John Hay to continue operating without business permits because it deprives the local government added income and considering the fact that they are not exempted from the imposition of business taxes pursuant to the provisions of the Local government Code of the Philippines, thus, the need for everyone to cooperate with the power of taxation of the city.
By Dexter A. See