PANAY ELECTRIC Co., Inc. (PECO) said it had paid nearly P135 million to the Iloilo City government as settlement of its real property tax (RPT) obligations.

“Now that PECO has paid the tax liabilities assessed by the city government of Iloilo, there is no more reason to proceed with the planned auction of the company’s properties on December 12,” said Marcelo U. Cacho, PECO head of public engagement and government affairs, in a statement on Monday.

The amount at P134,927,522.63 covers the city’s power distribution utility’s past and present real property tax liability from 2006 until 2019. It excludes interests and penalties that are the subject of Local Board of Assessment Appeals (LBAA) Case No. 2017-01 and LBAA Case No. 2019-01.

“Those who want to take over our services through whatever means at their disposal — ethical or otherwise — wanted to participate in the planned auction because they wanted to take shortcuts in acquiring power distribution assets,” Mr. Cacho said.

“And because they really have no physical capability to serve the power needs of Iloilo. What do they really have right now, other than the backing of their friends in government?” he added, alluding to MORE Electric and Power Co. that has secured a congressional franchise covering Iloilo.

PECO said the payment averts the Iloilo’s planned auction of the company’s properties, which will be done supposedly to cover its real property tax liabilities.

“Since the start, PECO is determined to settle and pay all its tax liabilities to the LGU, as may be required by laws or ordinances,” Mr. Cacho said.

“In fact, PECO is not just paying its taxes in full, the company is even pre-paying in advance the RPT due on December 31 and now we are clear of all tax liabilities,” he added.

Mr. Cacho said the company had always been willing to amicably settle the tax cases and disputes between it and the LGU (local government unit).

In the same statement, PECO quoted Iloilo Mayor Jerry P. Treñas as saying: “With this, we can properly fund programs intended for much improved social services and other initiatives that would benefit the Ilonggo community in our quest to bringing Iloilo City to the next level.”

Mr. Cacho said PECO never opposed the paying of new property taxes.

“We just wanted clarification on why suddenly we get slapped with an unfair ten-year back-tax assessment,” he said. — Victor V. Saulon