Wednesday, April 29, 2009
By Merlinda A. Pedrosa
THE Iloilo City Government said it does not have an official copy of a Department of Justice (DOJ) decision that allegedly declared its tax ordinance illegal.
Tax Ordinance 474-2008’s passage was not according to the procedures prescribed under the Local Government Code (LGC) and its implementing guidelines, added the decision.
The ordinance increases by 10 percent the business tax in Bacolod effective January this year but its enforcement was suspended after the SM Group of Companies, composed of Ace Hardware Philippines Inc., Mainstream Business Inc., Star Appliance Center Inc., SM Prime Holdings Inc., Surplus Marketing Corp., Supervalue Inc., and Watsons Personal Care Stores (Phil) Inc., filed a petition before the DOJ to stop its implementation.
The petitioners questioned the constitutionally and legality of the measure, saying the 10 percent tax rate hike is excessive and an unreasonable imposition.
They claimed the ordinance was passed without complying with the requirements on publication, written notice, and public hearing under Section 187 of the code; that it failed to comply with the posting requirements under Section 511.2 of the code concerning the penal sanctions; and that it violated the requirement under Section 191 of the code that any increase should not exceed 10 percent of the rates fixed under the code.
“It’s hard to speculate considering we don’t have yet the official copy of the decision; we can’t assume what aspects of the arguments given by SM Group were upheld by the DOJ,” said Acting City Legal Officer Vicente Petierre III Tuesday.
Acting Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson, meanwhile, maintained the City Council conducted a public hearing before the ordinance was approved. “In defense of the City Council, we also used this as we submitted all of these to the DOJ.”
He also noted the city suspended the implementation of the rate hike and that the treasurer is using the old computation in assessing what’s due to the city from business operations.