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ROUGH CUTS| Amendments are already necessary

WE have some members of the present Sangguniang Panlungsod of Davao City who we would consider friends because of our profession, by our friendship with their father of mother who also served in previous Councils, and because of our personal interactions with them when we were still working with an electric utility in the city.

We know that some of our acquaintances in the local lawmaking body are chairmen, vice chairmen, or members of the various committees of the Sanggunian.

We do not know if we are correct in what we learned that the chair of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources is our friend Councilor Tek Ocampo of the first district. And if indeed he is, we are giving this unsolicited recommendation for his committee to review the existing ordinance on the city government’s mode of taxation which was revised several years ago. It is our take that some taxes levied on certain businesses and related endeavors are already outmoded and not any more attuned to the present time.

To cite one such area of outmoded taxation level is on charges collected from concessionaires of sand, gravel, mountain mix, limestone, and above all stone boulders. Under the present taxation ordinance of Davao City how much is collected from each truckload or cubic meter of these resources? How much is the business permit fees being leveled on concessionaires?

We suggest that our friend Councilor Tek go over the ordinance and find out. For all we know, this quarrying business is drawing so much of the city’s natural resources but paying so measly amount to the local government.

Only about three years back, or shortly before the onset of the CoViD pandemic, we had a friend who worked with the City Environment and Natural Resources Office or CENRO. He is now working in another local government nearby after having married a resident of that city. He was once assigned in a checkpoint somewhere in the third district to check on the number of dump trucks loaded with the natural resources we have earlier mentioned here.

The giant dump trucks are owned by a concessionaire operating in an area along the Davao River specifically on the 3rd district side of that famous natural waterway. And these trucks, mind you, are so huge that in our estimate one full load could be about 10 cubic meters.

And since the start of the pandemic until at present we had been more or less permanently residing in our rural residence which is along the road where the trucks pass by, we had the opportunity to monitor the number of trips the concessionaire’s vehicle have in just one day – roughly from 10 to 15 at most trips.

From what we learned the boulders are reportedly supplied to the contractors of the still unfinished Davao City Coastal Road project, or are delivered to a stone crushing plant where these are converted into small rough pieces which are ideal for mixing with concrete for building construction purposes.

Our friend once told us that it is on the hauling that money are made by some individuals from the CENRO and even at the Barangay government levels. Most of the people manning CENRO checkpoints allegedly do not declare the true load volume but in the process get some reward money from the concession operators.

Assuming that the load volume is say, ten cubic meters of sand, gravel, mountain mix, lime stone or stone boulders and what is declared is only 5 cubic meters, how much does the city lose and how much goes to the pocket of corrupt individuals.

And the concessionaire who has that area along Davao River 3rd district side has been for years, made the milking cow of barangay officials as well, specifically these days that the barangay and SK elections are drawing near.

Then we have this other downside that bigtime concessionaires are adversely doing against the city government. With their giant trucks and the frequency of the trips hauling extremely heavy loads, the taxes the concessionaires are paying the city do not even compensate the value it has contributed to the damage made on the roads that are the trucks’ usual route.

These are the reasons why we are strongly recommending to our friend Councilor Tek, or any other members of the current Council, to review the present tax ordinance and introduce amendments to provisions where changes are already necessary.

We are certain though, that those concerned businessmen will be the first to cry unfair if any such proposal be made. But being unfair to a few privileged individuals may be most fair if the effects of the revision will be beneficial to the city government and the greater number of its population.


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