AMID the hasty Senate approval of the Bulacan airport franchise, some senators expressed apprehension that the next Congress will rescind its tax incentives as these are contrary to the CREATE bill.
The bill granting franchise to San Miguel Aerocity for the construction of an international airport in Bulacan, Bulacan was passed in third and final reading with a 22-0-0 votes.
However, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon expressed fears the airport franchise bill might be amended and the perks given to the corporation will be rescinded if its provisions are not defined clearly.
“Can the next Congress rescind and remove all these incentives?” Drilon asked.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson had expressed concerns on the repercussions of the airport franchise bill’s approval ahead of the CREATE measure.
“That was exactly the point I’ve raised when we are discussing that it will be in conflict with our tax measure under the CREATE bill. We should be very clear on this issue,” said Lacson.
Senator Francis Tolentino admitted that the general law’s contracting provisions with the recently okayed airport franchise measure would create a controversy.
Drilon stressed that the franchise’s provisions should not be subject to amendments and must be considered a contract between San Miguel and the government. Tolentino, for his part, said the law on property right should prevail, stressing that the tax incentives could not be forfeited without due process.
The company owned by Ramon S. Ang stands to enjoy a P118 billion-tax perk within the 50-year effectivity of the airport franchise.
“Hindi dapat ang gobyerno ang babalikat sa mga bayarin sa buwis ng isang pribadong proyekto na pribadong kompanya ang nagkusang maitayo bilang kanyang negosyo,” said the Action for Economic Reform.
Sen. Grace Poe defended the SMC Aerocity project, saying that it will generate P1.5 trillion in investments, with some P734 billion allotted for the airport facility alone.
Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III said the airport project had been planned for 17 years by his former Senate colleagues, Ang and the late Danding Cojuangco as well as Fernando Poe Jr. , father of Sen. Grace.
“It is with great pleasure that we thank our colleagues for the passage of measure that was born 17 years ago,” said Sotto.