Golfing elbow PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 November 2015 13:44

BEHIND  THE  LINES

 

BY BOB JALDON

Some people can’t seem to read the law correctly, making them look st…p in the eyes of lawyers and those with common sense.

For an insignificant issue as the privatization of the Zamboanga Golf and Country Club – the second oldest golf course in the country – our two foremost leaders grapple for space, air time and who’s right –LEGALLY. When Mayor Climaco-Salazar said that she is open to the proposal to privatize the facility provided certain conditions are met by the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), the next morning Congressman Celso L. Lobregat (D-I) opined that, as I understand from his long press release, there must be consultations and coordination that have to be made with the city government prior to the golf course’s sale or privatization. Not so fast, Eddie. The Eight Ball ain’t down yet – in a manner of speaking.

Reading, as many did, there is no law that requires the approval of the city government on the sale/privatization by TIEZA of the golf facility. The only approval required, through a city council resolution, is on the DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR THE GOLF COURSE when it is registered with TIEZA as a TOURISM ENTERPRISE ZONE or TEZ.

I don’t pretend to be a lawyer, but common sense will tell us that R.A. 9593 or the Tourism Act of 2009 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, as amended, allows the privatization of the golf course. The 82-hectare facility isn’t owned or controlled by the city government. TIEZA, a government-owned and controlled corporation, is the owner.

Four years into his office as mayor, Mr. Lobregat initiated one of the bold moves, in fact the boldest, against the rich and the haves, among them his big campaign donors, by increasing the city’s real property tax multiple folds. Payable, no doubt by the landed, that tax imposition hurt the poor in effect because house and land rentals skyrocketed because the burden was passed-on, ala Zamcelco, to the lessees.

Nevertheless, the city, so desperate for more money to introduce more light and heavy infrastructure to lure outside investments, will certainly benefit from the privatization of the facility that presently caters to less than a hundred local golfers( Koreans, now and then) most of them still struggling at Classes C and D and all of them rich and high middle-class individuals. They’re all my friends, but not the gorgeous umbrella girls. Some of them grumble when green fees are raised. Madre de Dios.

The city will earn one-third of 5 percent gross income tax annually payable by the operator/owner of the golf facility. This fact alone should make Mr. Lobregat very happy. But apparently, he is not. POR QUE? Right now, I don’t know if the city is getting a darn centavo from TIEZA for the golf course and the beach resort.

You ask the non-golfers and 600,000 other people living in Zamboanga and they’ll tell you to SELL the golf course. Government-run or privately-owned, the golfers will still play because they love the game. At the moment, I cannot say that the golf facility brings in tourists because none are coming our way until we get all the guns, the bombs and the kidnappers. In Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s words: “Kung ako ang president, kunin ko ‘yan. “

The golfers have an alternative course – EAAB golf course, where the fairways are narrower and the greens are tighter. But the holes are makeable (two-three strokes, hehehe).

This debate about privatizing the golf course gives me the GOLFING ELBOW. After all, “golf is a good walk spoiled,” said Mark Twain. There’s always this saying from Filbert Bayi: “To say that politics is not part of sports is not being realistic.” How did the controversy start, anyway?