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NGCP owes gov’t almost P20M in user’s fees

SAN JOSE CITY – The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) owes the government at least P20 million in unpaid “user’s fees,” including accrued penalties for the use of their transmission facilities inside the vast 94,000-hectare Pantabangan-Carranglan Watershed Forest Reserve (PCWFR) for three years starting January 2015 until February 2018.

This came to fore after the NGCP wrote the Protected Area Management Board-PCWFR and asked for copies of the official documents showing the “history” of their debt which amounts to P16,626,140.00 as principal plus penalties worth P3,325,225.00.

Joselito M. Blanco, Nueva Ecija provincial environment and natural resources officer, said the NGCP also asked to waive the imposition of the 20 percent penalty amounting to P3.3-million, citing that the delay in its payment was not attributable to the agency.

The letter-request dated Jan. 18, 2021 was sent by NGCP OIC-Quality, Safety and Environment department head Gilbert Nelson P. Blancaver to Blanco, in his capacity as Nueva Ecija PENRO and Protected Area Superintendent of the PCWFR.

The NGCP’s letter-request was an offshoot of an earlier coordination meeting between the NGCP and CENRO-Muñoz under Florencio Lalu at the Microtel Hotel in Cabanatuan in January 15, it was learned.

According to Blanco, the NGCP has been using at least 656,295 square meters of the PCWFR for its transmission lines and tower facilities for an annual user’s fee rate equivalent to P8 per square meter.

The PENRO chief also furnished the Journal Group a copy of his letter to Blancaver dated February 3 which said that the imposition of user’s fee with regard to the operation and maintenance of NGCP’s facilities within the PCWFR started in 2015.

As per records, the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) had earlier issued Resolution No. 6 Series of 2015 entitled: “Isang Kapasiyahang Inaatasan ng Magbayad ng Taunang Butaw ang NGCP na may kaukulang halagang Php 8.00/square meter para sa paggamit ng Right of Way ng mga Linya ng Kuryente Kasama ang iba pang Pasilidad nito sa bahagi ng PCWFR. Based on this resolution, your total annual user’s fee amounted to Php5,250,360 starting January 2015.”

But Blanco said, in his Feb. 3 letter, they already demanded the NGCP to immediately pay the P16.6-million amount the firm owed to the government as user’s fees, notwithstanding the P3.3-million the latter was asking to waive as accrued penalties.

Blanco said the NGCP request to waive the 20 percent penalty charge was among the agenda during the PAMB meeting held at the Hotel Francesko here on Tuesday but the ZOOM discussions failed to reach a consensus due to slow internet connectivity.