Capitol, Mabalacat RPT ‘war’ looms

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014


CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Provincial Government and the City of Mabalacat are at loggerheads over the issue of real property tax after the passage of a related ordinance by the city council that challenges the province's control over it.

If push comes to shove, according to a reliable source from Capitol, the province might bring the matter to the court.

This as the city council is currently reviewing documents related to the ordinance, which was submitted late last week.

"They promised to submit the ordinance for approval by the Sangguniang Panglungsod one Tuesday but it took them 22 Tuesdays before they made their promise good and then wanted us to approve it in a wink," the source said.

The ordinance, according to the source, has many flaws.

"First off, the ordinance contravenes the Local Government Code provision that gives the provincial government control over RPT," the source said. "The law that converted Mabalacat into a city may have given it that control but that is not possible in view of the Code."

The RPT rates indicated in the ordinance were picked up from the province's current rates, which, the source said, is also questionable.

While Mabalacat is now a component city, it still is a part of the province, for all intents and purposes.

"In fact, Mabalacat still very much dependent on the provincial government for funds for much-needed public projects and services," the sources added. "They cannot have their cake and eat it, too."

The provincial board is also verifying if the ordinance passed the process, including the holding of the required public hearing.
"Apparently, it was railroaded," the source said.

The collection and remittance of RPT has been a recurring and thorny issue between the provincial government and the two component cities, San Fernando and Mabalacat, for the longest time. San Fernando has allegedly stopped remitting its RPT to the provincial coffers after its conversion into a city in 2004, using the same argument raised by Mabalacat.

"This official intransigence has to stop or we will be constrained to go to court to get a final ruling," the source said.

Reprimand without action

Vice Mayor Christian Halili told Sun.Star Pampanga on Wednesday during the Peace and Order Council Command Conference at Capitol that they have made amends with the provincial board regarding the ordinance.

"We have submitted all the necessary documents regarding the ordinance and we were issued a reprimand without action. After its approval at the Provincial Board, we would implement it as embodied in the ordinance with the proper 70 percent to the city-30 percent to the barangay sharing," he said.

For his part, Mayor Marino Morales corroborated Halili and said that all that is needed now is to submit the transcripts of the hearings and discussions regarding the RPT ordinance.

"As to our RPT arrears, we have remitted them already, as far as I know and as per our treasurer’s report," he said.

Still for review

Provincial board committee on ways and means chairman Rosve Henson said, however, that Mabalacat City's ordinance is still being reviewed by the august body.

"It's as simple as the 'no representation, no taxation' principle. Meaning, Mabalacat is still a component city and not a highly urbanized city. Like San Fernando, they still vote for a governor, which means that they still have obligations to the provincial government as stipulated in the Local Government Code. They can include it in their charter but it may still be questionable," he said.

"And while the ordinance is in its review period, Mabalacat City will have to remit its RPT share to Capitol from January this year up to the time it is actually enacted and implemented," said Henson. (NCS/JTD)

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 03, 2014.

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