THE COURT of Tax Appeals (CTA) has affirmed its denial of CE Casecnan Water and Energy Co., Inc.’s appeal to cancel its supposed national wealth share worth P183.26 million in connection with the development of a multi-purpose resource delivery project from 2002 to 2008.

In a 12-page decision dated Sept. 23 and made public on Sept. 28, the CTA full court ruled it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.

“Although the original case heard in the lower court seems to pertain to the validity of an assessment, a simple perusal of the aforesaid assessment itself disclosed that it does not involve a tax dispute,” according to the ruling penned by Associate Justice Maria Belen M. Ringpis-Liban.

Under the CTA’s rules, the tax court can exercise jurisdiction to review by appeal, the decisions, resolutions, or orders of lower courts in local tax cases.

The case stemmed from CE Casecnan’s agreement with the state-owned National Irrigation Administration that involves the development of an irrigation and power project in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija and Alfonso Castañeda, Nueva Viscaya.

The CTA First Division ruled in 2020 that it did not have jurisdiction over the case since it did not involve a tax dispute.

In 2008, the treasurer of the Alfonso Castañeda municipality issued an assessment letter that demanded P183.26 million from the firm, as part of its national wealth share for the development of the irrigation and water delivery facility.

The official added that appropriate judicial remedies would be pursued if the municipality’s demand was not met. The dams that supplied the water were located in Alfonso Castañeda.

The project sought to “harness the full potential” of the Pantabangan Dam and divert about 801 million cubic meters of water from the Casecnan and Taan rivers of Nueva Viscaya to the Pantabangan reservoir in Nueva Ecija, the CTA noted.

It would benefit several local government units as power plants would be located in two provinces.

Under the Local Government Code of 1991, the national wealth share comes from the proceeds from projects developed by government-owned or controlled corporations.

In 2017, a Nueva Viscaya trial court canceled the treasurer’s assessment as it ruled CE Casecnan is not a state-owned corporation.

“Accordingly, the court en banc shall no longer discuss the other issues raised by petitioner (CE Casecnan) since the CTA has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case,” said the tax court. — John Victor D. Ordoñez