Issue of February 4, 2018
Mt. Province

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DOJ told to nullify LT’s new tax code
by Ofelia C. Empian

Businessmen, farmers, and traders in La Trinidad, Benguet have filed an appeal before the Department of Justice to nullify the recently implemented revised revenue code of the municipality due to its alleged excessive increase and for not going through public consultations.

The petitioners, led by Nora Ganase, president of the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post Booth Association, and Filomena Kinawag, president of the Bagsakan Municipal Clusters Vegetable Dealers Association, Inc., among 27 others, asked the DOJ to cause the declaration of the nullity of Ordinance 24-2017 revising the 2005 Revenue Code of La Trinidad or the revised Revenue Code of 2017.

The petition received by the DOJ on Jan. 31 was filed against the municipal government led by Mayor Romeo Salda and the sangguniang bayan composed of Vice Mayor Joey Marrero and councilors Nestor Fongwan Jr., Henry Kipas, Estrella Adeban, Horacio Ramos Jr., Renato Tereng, Arthur Shontogan, Guiller Galwan, Teddy Quintos, and Marcelo Abela.

In the appeal, the petitioners cited the revised Revenue Code of 2017 of the municipality as “baseless, unreasonable, unjust, excessive, oppressive, confiscatory, and contrary to declared national policy, hence, null and void.”

“The revised Revenue Code of 2017 was enacted without any public hearing conducted for the purpose and did not comply with the publication requirements as mandated by and in violation of Sections 187 and 188 of the Local Government Code  of 1991 or Republic Act 7160 and Article 276 (b) and (c) of the implementing rules and regulations of RA 7160, hence null and void,” the petition read.

Section 187 of RA 7160 provides for the conduct of public hearings for the approval and effectivity of tax, ordinances and revenue measures while Section 188 states that within 10 days after their approval, certified true copies of all provincial, city, and municipal tax ordinances or revenue measures shall be published in full for three consecutive days in a newspaper of local circulation.

The petitioners’ lawyer, Simpson Baldo, said the petitioners were not informed of such proposed revision of the revenue code during its deliberation.

Baldo said the petitioners should have been given a copy beforehand of the then proposed revised revenue code for them to give their inputs prior to the scheduled public consultations.

“We are open to discuss the increase. If only the stakeholders were involved, siguro baka sila pa ang magsasabi kung ano ang dapat,” Baldo said, as he cited the earlier letters sent to the LGU by the League of Associations at La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Area, Inc.

On Dec. 21, 2017, the league asked for a dialogue with the municipal government, which was conducted on Dec. 29. The meeting among the officers of the league and the municipal administrator, municipal treasurer and members of the municipal council resulted in the cutting of fees for the vegetable sector to P10,237.40.

The league also sent a letter to the mayor on Jan. 4 about their alternative proposed rates to certain facilities at the vegetable trading post.

However, Municipal Administrator Miller Quintin, in reply, stated the rates may not be modified since these are prescribed under the 2017 revised revenue code.

“The modification or reduction of the rates may only be effected through an amendment of the code,” he stated in his letter to the league dated Jan. 12. 

Records of the sangguniang bayan office showed that a public hearing was conducted on Nov. 17, 2016 for the revised Revenue Code of 2017 attended by various individuals including representatives of businesses in the municipality.

Baldo said the petition is pending before the office of DOJ Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre.

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