Saturday, May 25, 2024

Bulacan Asks SC To Reconsider October Ruling On Angat Dam Water Tax

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Bulacan Asks SC To Reconsider October Ruling On Angat Dam Water Tax

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The Bulacan provincial government on Thursday filed an appeal before the Supreme Court asking the tribunal to take a second look at its earlier ruling that precluded water from the Angat Dam as a natural resource subject to taxes, including a share for the province.

“We most humbly and respectfully move for the reconsideration of the Decision of the Honorable Court en banc dated 03 October 2023 which ruled that appropriated dam water is not to be considered national wealth, and therefore, not subject to the national wealth tax,” Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando said in a statement after filing the motion for reconsideration.

“This pertains to our equitable share in the exploitation, development and utilization of our natural resources tulad ng itinadhana ng Saligang Batas ng Republika ng Pilipinas at nakasaad sa (as provided for in the Philippine Constitution, and in the) Local Government Code of 1991 (Republic Act 7160),” he said.

In its October 2023 ruling, the SC reversed a lower court’s decision directing the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to remit to Bulacan its share for the utilization of water resources derived from Angat Dam, which is located in the province.

It ruled that while under the Constitution, local government units are guaranteed a share in the utilization and development of national wealth within their areas and that water, a natural resource, is national wealth when water is taken or diverted from a natural resource. As in the case of dams, “this water is already deemed appropriated, as provided for under the Water Code of the Philippines.”

“That being the case, there is no need for local governments to receive a share for the use of the dam water in their respective areas.”

It said the National Power Corporation (NPC) had been paying a national wealth tax for its use of water from the Angat River prior to the water’s impounding in a dam.

“To the Court’s mind, it would be highly unreasonable if national wealth tax were to be imposed on dam water given that it is already appropriated water, and, as confirmed by NPC, the water from the Angat River is subjected to appropriate tax upon its extraction and prior to impounding,” the Court said.

The SC added MWSS is not liable to pay Bulacan national wealth tax because MWSS has not been shown to be engaged in the utilization and development of water.

The MWSS was created for regulatory functions and does not use the water in Angat Dam to make a profit, it said.

Angat Dam is located within the Angat Watershed Forest Reserve in Barangay San Lorenzo, Norzagaray, Bulacan. It supplies potable water to Metro Manila and powers a hydro-electric power plant. (PNA)

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