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[ Davao City ] City to appeal ruling on Real Property Taxes

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 [ ]

DAVAO City Legal Office (CLO) will file before Mindanao's appellate court an appeal for reversal of a local court decision declaring City Ordinance on Real Property Tax "null and void."
Ordinance 040-07, enacted by the 14th City Council of Davao and approved by City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on December 6, 2007, levied 150 percent and up to 3,900 percent increases on taxes on real properties and buildings from 2008 to the present.
Lawyer Oscar Mata of the CLO said the ordinance enacted in 2007 was made effective in 2008 while petitioner lawyer Danilo Basa filed a case December 21, 2009, leading to the seven-page decision ordered April 30, 2010.
The CLO has yet to receive a copy of the decision.
"The main body of their argument is that the ordinance was not published before its enactment, allegedly contrary to what is required under the law," Mata said in an interview Tuesday.
"Our position is that there is no necessity for publication before enactment because the law does not expressly say so. We will appeal for the review the decision on the Court of Appeals," Mata added.
Presiding judge George Omelio of Branch 14 rendered that said Ordinance 040 07 "is null and void for being contrary to law and for being confiscatory." He directed the city to refund the petitioner of all Real Property Taxes paid by him under the said ordinance.
The court ruled in favor of the petitioner, who assailed that the city in approving said ordinance is "unjust, excessive, oppressive, and confiscatory" in violation of Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991.
Mata said Basa is the same Danilo Basa of Lakas-Kampi-CMD Davao.
He also expressed observations limited on the dates by which the case revolved.
"It was filed in time for the elections. The promulgation of the decision was days before the elections. I don't want to speculate anything on that as the court has already ruled," Mata said.
Omelio ruled in favor of the petitioner's allegations that there was no publication in a newspaper of local circulation of the schedule of fair market values (SFMV) within 10 days for three consecutive days, after its submission to the City Council on July 11, 2007 for enactment into an ordinance.
The court ruled the notice of public hearings was not made in accordance with the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the LGC.
The court also said the City Government admitted there was no publication of said ordinance in a newspaper of local circulation within 10 days for three consecutive days after its approval by the Office of the City Mayor on January 12, 2008 but was published belatedly March 5, 6, and 7 of 2008.
The local court also junked the City Government's stand as stated in its comment that the issues raised by Basa against the ordinance were "purely a question of law."
The ordinance also received opposition from the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII), which submitted in 2009 its position paper saying the ordinance' passage is "clearly unjustified, confiscatory and oppressive."
House Speaker Prospero Nograles also expressed support to DCCCII in its opposition to the ordinance.
"The City Government must clearly justify by written and public accounting how it is spending and has been spending at least P3 billion per year of Davao City taxpayer's money and explain where it is being spent and how it is being allocated and spent," Nograles told Sun.Star through text in March 2009.
"The Davao City Chamber of Commerce's position on the excessive real estate taxes is truly justified. There is hardly nothing to see in terms of projects and visible infrastructure accomplishments. It's time for public written accounting of projects implemented by the city for public transparency. It's only fair if taxpayers are to shoulder all these public expenses," he said. (JCZ/With Sunnex reports)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 19, 2010.

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