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Four villages tangle over Trinoma taxes

[ ] January 26, 2009

Four villages in Quezon City are squabbling over Ayala-owned Trinoma to rake in multi-million pesos of realty taxes in a bid to outdo Makati’s central business district.

Locking horns over prime property are Bagong Pag-asa, Sto. Cristo, Pinyahan and Philamlife.

Chairman Fermin Bilaos, of Bagong Pag-asa, said before the mall was erected in 2007, the annual gross income derived from the local business sector was only P2.5 million. But when Triangle of North Manila paid P44 million in real property tax to the city government in early 2008 operations, collection rose to P6.5 million, with P4 million representing Pag-asa’s share from Trinoma’s dues.

“That was only for six months. We are expecting that the RPT from Trinoma could reach P10 million annually,” Bilaos told Standard Today, adding that the village was second to Bahay Toro in terms of wealth. The optimism over taking the top rung in the tax take ladder is borne out by the planned Central Business District, according to Bilaos.

“Prospects are very high. We are confident. The CBD, in fact, was being programmed to be bigger than Makati City’s,” he said.

Bilaos admitted that a dispute was brewing with neighboring Sto. Cristo over yet another mall, SM City, the biggest in the country and third largest in the world.

He said while the Henry Sy-owned mall was on his turf, SM realty taxes were going to Sto. Cristo.

“We have been fighting to claim the RPT from SM for two decades already. When the area—where SM and Trinoma stand now—was still barren, no one was claiming jurisdiction but our barangay. When SM began operation in 1987, we were surprised that some people in the local council then managed to put the mall property under Sto. Cristo’s jurisdiction,” fumed Bilaos.

On record, Sto. Cristo earns from SM’s RPT an estimated P5 million annually. Bilaos said his predecessors failed to fight for the barangay’s rightful claim over SM and that he had begun lobbying to reclaim it when he first assumed his post in 2002.

Aside from Bagong Pag-asa and Sto. Cristo, Barangay Ramon Magsaysay was also claiming part of the SM property, particularly the spot where the new Annex (Cyberzone) building was constructed.

“I have since written the local council to review the tax mapping that was approved during the time of former Mayor Adelina Rodriguez in the ’80s. This tax map removed SM from our barangay but legally, SM falls in our jurisdiction. In fact, every problem that occurred in the Bliss area and the North Triangle was handled by our barangay. So far the only share we have been receiving from SM and Bliss are problems. Sto. Cristo got the money and we got the problems. Unfair,” Bilaos noted.

Bagong Pag-asa’s North Triangle limits are North Avenue, Agham Road, Quezon Avenue and Edsa.

The Bliss is another problem, Bilaos said, noting that the former Bagong Pag-asa Homes was paying P1 million in realty tax to Sto. Cristo.

Even Trinoma Mall was not spared from territorial cross-claims.

Bilaos said Pinyahan and Philam were staking a claim on Trinoma but he vowed to weather political pressure.

“Marami ng bago sa Bagong Pag-asa [So much is new in the place]. We owe this to the blessing that is Trinoma. We hope that SM would be given back to us,” he said.

Village treasurer Bernardo Salas said the ambitious Ayala project breathed new life to the village.

From one old computer set before Trinoma’s arrival, Salas says, Bagong Pag-asa now boasts its own Information Technology department with high-tech gizmos and that the village hall had moved to a new building beside the old office on Road 9.

“SM was a problem but Trinoma came as a blessing,” he said.

Bilaos said he asked Councilor RJ Belmonte to sponsor a measure in the city council, reverting the SM property to Bagong Pag-asa.

“I wonder why no one in the city council is lifting a finger on the problem. It’s politics. Maybe they were afraid to offend Barangay Sto. Cristo and Magsaysay. Legally, however, we have the right to sue the council for not acting on our complaint 60 days after we filed it. And it has been seven years.”

He said he would agree to mend fences where SM would go to Sto. Cristo with Bagong Pag-asa retaining Bliss.

“Or, we could all agree that the RPT from SM be divided among Bagong Pag-asa, Sto. Cristo and Magsaysay. That way, no one will be haled to court,” winked Bilaos, hinting that the village could afford high-profile lawyers. Joel M. Sy Egco


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