The Department of Justice has dismissed the appeal filed by former Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella questioning the legality of the New Revenue Code of Bacolod City, saying that it was not perfected.
The appeal filed by Rolling Hills Memorial Park Inc. represented by Puentevella, asked that City Ordinance 565, Series of 2011, or an “Ordinance approving the Revised Local Revenue Code of Bacolod,” be declared illegal and of no force and legal effect on January 26, 2012.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, in her letter to Puentevella dated Jan. 27, said that before the Department can act on the appeal, it should show that the procedure governing appeals is complied with pursuant to Department Circular 21 dated July 15, 1992, specifically Sections 3 and 4. Otherwise, the appeal is not perfected.
She said since Sections 3 and 4 were not properly complied with, the appeal was not perfected so the Department has no other option but to dismiss it.
City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan yesterday said the DOJ dismissed the appeal on two grounds – it lacks form and substance.
He said Puentevella failed to pay the P2,500 filing fee and U.P. legal research fee of P25 to cover administrative costs for services rendered provided under Section 4 of the DOJ circular.
The solon claimed that he hired a tax expert when he filed the appeal, he said.
Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia, meanwhile, said that maybe they were more conscious about the politics in the complaint, than about its substance.
Bayatan said they are also questioning Puentevella’s sincerity in filing the appeal. “It is very basic that when you file a petition it must be complete both in form and substance,” he said. Since it lacks both, the appeal did not touch first base, he added.
Puentevella did not cite the legal grounds why C.O. 595 should not be implemented, Bayatan said. If he is sincere, he should have defended the right of the people, he added. He recalled that when the city called for a dialog with the business sector ,Puentevella did not even attend.
Vicente Petierre III, Acting Permits and Licensing Division head, said Puentevella did not also comply with all five requirements under Section 3, which include the submission of a legible and true copy of the tax ordinance. He also did not indicate when the tax measure became effective and when it was posted, he said.
Puentevella did not also provide a copy to the local government, Petierre said. However, the DOJ gave them an option to file the appeal before the court, questioning the constitutionality or legality of the ordinance, he said.
Leonardia said Puentevella claimed that he gathered several businessmen, but on the record, he filed the appeal alone. Nobody joined him, which means that, maybe, nobody trusts him, also said. It is unfortunate that he is making a big political issue out of this, he added.
“Our dialog with the business groups through Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson, will continue because it was our understanding during the meeting that wewill find solutions,” Leonardia said. In the meantime, chances are that they might withdraw their appeal, he said, but the dialogs will continue.
Sayson said they are still negotiating with the businessmen to find a win-win solution for everyone. “As long as what they are asking is legal and within the confines of the Local Government Code, we will listen,” he said. They will have another meeting with the mayor and he is preparing a report which he will present to the CLO for review, he added.
Ramon Viva, Puentevella’s spokesperson, said “It is a sad day not for Puentevella but for the citizens of Bacolod.” The solon filed the appeal in behalf of all the stakeholders especially the end users like the hospitals, businesses, and ordinary citizens since the approved increase in taxes will be passed on to them, he said.
He said the appeal was dismissed not on the merits but on mere technicality and that they paid the exact amount based on the assessment of the DOJ personnel. If they had called up Puentevella’s office they could have paid the required P25 fee and be able to file the appeal within the required 30 day period, he added.
Viva claimed that the DOJ also contends that they did not submit a certified true copy but the law only requires true copy, and that the lawyer of Puentevella filed a certified true copy.*CGS