Puentevella's bid vs new land tax rates junked

A LOCAL court in Bacolod City has denied the civil complaint filed by former Bacolod City mayor Monico Puentevella against his successor, Mayor Evelio Leonardia, and other city officials on the implementation of the new real property tax (RPT) rates for lack of merit.

City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan said on Monday, March 26, that the order dated January 29, 2018 was signed by Regional Trial Court Branch 48 Judge Rosario Ester Orda-Caise.

In January, Puentevella filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Leonardia, the City Council represented by Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, City Assessor's Office head Maphilindo Polvora and City Treasurer Giovanie Balalilhe.

On October 26, 2017, the City Council approved City Ordinance 827 or an “Ordinance updating the schedule of the market value of real properties in the City of Bacolod and other provisions relative to real property tax administration.”

The two-page decision stated that the petition is denied for lack of merit, without prejudice to the filing of the appropriate action, if needed.

The order said a clarificatory hearing was called on January 26, 2018 that required the petitioner to check whether he has completely complied with the formal requirements of the petition, whether publication has already been made and when, if any, was given until the end of the day to correct or amend the petition and attachments, if needed. No compliance or any amendments were made at the end of the day.

As to form, the petition failed to comply with Sections 1 and 4 of Rule 65, particularly failing to attach certified copies of the assailed ordinance.

Further, it failed to state that said the ordinance was published last November 14, 2017, a fact gathered during the clarificatory hearing on January 26, 2018. Hence, the 60-day period to file an action under Rule 65 has already lapsed, it added.

The court further said as to whether a petition for certiorari is the proper action to assail the constitutionality of the ordinance, the answer is no.

The appropriate action to declare a law, statute, regulation, or local ordinance as unconstitutional is to file an action for declaratory relief under Rule 63 of the Revised Rules of Court. The petitioner may file an appropriate case if he believes in his position to question City Ordinance 827.

On March 9, RTC Branch 48 Clerk of Court V Nenita de Vera-Alquizar also issued a certificate of finality that no appeal was taken by the parties from the Resolution of the Court on January 29. In view thereof, the said resolution became final and executory on February 15.

Bayatan said that the dismissal of the petition of Puentevella was a very insincere move.

"He filed a complaint with insincerity, untrustworthiness and without any direction at all because even in the formal requisites, which is very fundamental in the filling of a petition, he failed to do that," he said.

He added the dismissed petition will only confirm that the CO 827 is constitutionally valid and Bacolod has already 80 percent compliance in the payment.

Bayatan said the new RPT is “pro-people, and pro-business,” adding that it has political motivation or intention at all compared to Puentevella's RPT, which was declared unconstitutional.

Puentevella could not be reached for comment as of Monday.
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