DOJ thrashes MACCI appeal

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014


ANGELES CITY -- The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dismissed the case filed by the Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (MACCII) against the legality of the city's tax ordinance here.

The decision also cleared Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan and members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod.

In an eight-page decision issued on February 28, the DOJ dismissed the petition of MACCII questioning the constitutionality, validity and legality of Tax Ordinance No. 63-S. 20013 (An Ordinance Approving the Schedule of Fair Market Values and Assessment Levels of Real Estate Properties Located in the City of Angeles).

The decision signed by Justice Secretary Leila De Lima junked the claims of MACCI because they were "bereft of evidence."

MACCI has appealed to the DOJ late December 2013 against the ordinance alleging that the tax measure was enacted "without due process and that it contravened the fundamental principles of real estate taxation."

The case was filed by MACCI president Mario Lazatin and was represented by lawyer Elfren Hipolito Jr.

MACCI claimed, among other points, that no public hearings were held and that the concerned parties have not been notified on the conduct of public hearings.

However, the DOJ ruling noted that the tax ordinance has complied with the public hearing, publication and posting requirements under the law.

Pamintuan hailed the dismissal of the case after receiving a copy of the DOJ resolution on Monday.

"We are happy that the DOJ took cognizance of the legality of the RPT (real property tax) measure. In fact, it has been the national government, specifically the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Finance (DOF), which have been pressing us to adjust our property taxes, which have not been adjusted since 1995," Pamintuan said.

He said the big land and property owners have "cashed in big" on the appreciation or property values and the ensuing construction boom for almost two decades, after a brief period of anxiety immediately after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.

Pamintuan stressed that "there is no better time to revise the schedule of fair market values (SFMV) but today."

“It is about time that the big property owners give what is due to government to enable us to implement programs particularly for the less privileged who do not own any property,” the mayor said.

According to the Local Government Code, local governments should review and adjust their real property taxes every three years. But in the case of Angeles City, the last RPT adjustment was made in 1995 or 18 years ago.

Pamintuan pointed out that the property taxes have stagnated in Angeles City “probably because the local government has been at the hands of big landowners for almost two decades.”

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on March 26, 2014.

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