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Probe on tax records of official’s school

/ 08:46 AM January 15, 2013

THE Cebu City Administrator’s Office will examine the records of the Asian Institute of Technology (ACT) to verify if the school has been paying the right amount of taxes.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama yesterday said he ordered City Administrator Jose Marie Poblete to coordinate with concerned offices in response to a request from congressional candidate Aristotle Batuhan for a probe on ACT’s tax records.

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Batuhan, Team Rama’s candidate for Cebu City’s south congressional district, is running against ACT owner and Cebu City Councilor Rodrigo Abellanosa in this year’s elections.

Batuhan said he heard reports that ACT set up a foundation to avoid tax payments.

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Until a tax review is completed, Batuhan said the city government should withhold payments to the school.

“I am now giving an open directive for the city administrator to get in touch and look into the concerns of Batuhan,” said Mayor Rama.

Rama said he doesn’t mind public speculations that his order is politically motivated.

“There is now a hairline distinction between what is politically motivated and what is not. When the election is forthcoming, anything you do is always connected with politics,” he said.

Records from the city’s scholarship program showed that ACT enrolled 5,589 scholars or about 70 percent of the city’s scholars this school year.

The city gives P10,000 in allowances per semester as counterpart fund to the school’s P10,000.

Abellanosa said in a separate interview that he would welcome any investigation in his school.

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He said there’s no conflict of interest because his participation is in keeping with the Aquino administration’s public private partnership thrust.

Abellanosa said ACT’S unpaid claims amounted to P60 million in 2011 and may have already doubled by now.

“May I ask Totol (Batuhan) what he has done for the district?,” the councilor said.

Batuhan filed an administrative complaint against Abellanosa before the Office of the President for grave misconduct and is seeking his immediate preventive suspension.

The Team Rama congressional candidate said he will also ask the Bureau of Internal Revenue to review ACT’s tax payment records.

Rama said the city government should make it a policy to equally spread the distribution of cash aid to its scholars in the city’s 21 participating colleges and universities.  /Edison A. delos Angeles, Correspondent

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TAGS: School, school records, Tax
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