NINE landowners have gone to court to stop the Cebu Provincial Government from selling their property at a public auction.
The heirs of Leopolda Cecilio filed a civil complaint against the Provincial Government and five other public offices before the Regional Trial Court in a bid to halt the levy of their 64-ha. property in Barangay Uling, Naga. The property is estimated to be worth about P100 million.
“The acts of defendants in the levy and public auction of the property is not only prejudicial to the interest of the plaintiffs, but is also unconstitutional, constituting a taking of private property without due process,” the complaint read.
Apart from Capitol, also named plaintiffs to the suit were Cebu Provincial Assessor’s Office, Provincial Treasurer’s Office, Cebu Provincial Register of Deeds, Naga City Assessor’s Office and Naga City Treasurer’s Office.
Cecilio and lawyer Rodolfo Morelos questioned the computation by the Provincial Government on their property since 1980. It allegedly indicated some P9 million in unpaid taxes.
Based on their assessment, as of 2002, Morelos said Cecilio was only supposed to pay P123,415 in taxes, and he did so. From 2002 to 2007, the delinquency reached P4,407.68 annually, including penalties and other charges.
Cecilio and Morelos alleged that the government officials conspired to falsify a notice of levy for non-payment of taxes on the Naga property.
Moot and academic
The Provincial Government forfeited the 64-ha. property in favor of the government due to the landowner’s alleged failure to pay taxes.
But former Provincial Treasurer Salubre, in a letter, explained the payment of tax by Cecilio has been moot and academic since 2008, because the property was forfeited in favor of the Province for non-payment of real property tax.
In the petition, the landowners argued that the respondents’ acts in subjecting to public auction violate the Local Government Code on collection of real property taxes and the Civil Code on human relations.
The landowners asked the court to declare as null the plaintiffs’ act in selling their property at a public auction.
They also asked the court to correct the valuation and computation of real property taxes. The landowners also sought P100, 000 as actual damages and P50, 000 as lawyer’s fees.