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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, July 15, 2016
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SP repeal of RPT
invalid – councilor
BY CHRYSEE SAMILLANO

The repeal of City Ordinance No. 08-14-700, series of 2014, or the ordinance that updated the schedule of market values of real properties in Bacolod City, was invalid because it did not observe due process, Bacolod Councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr. claimed yesterday.

Gamboa said that under Section 187 of the Local Government Code the requirement of a public hearing is mandatory. So anybody can file a case before the court to determine whether the repeal of the tax ordinance was valid or invalid.

City Ordinance No. 08-14-700, that had been declared by the Department of Justice as null and void for being “unjust and confiscatory”, was repealed by the Bacolod Sangguniang Panlungsod Wednesday with eight SP members voting in the affirmative.

Gamboa voted against its passage while Councilor Sonya Verdeflor abstained.

Gamboa said there is no need to repeal the tax ordinance. They can propose an amendment to the original ordinance because they will be reviewing the schedule of market values and this will include publication request.

Councilor Caesar Distrito said that is a wrong interpretation of the law. “Under Section 187 of the LGC, public hearing is only required when you approve a tax ordinance,” he said.

But in this case, it is just the opposite. They are, in fact, relieving the taxpayers the burden of paying higher taxes by repealing the unconstitutional tax ordinance, he added.

Distrito said that in the repeal of the tax ordinances, a public hearing is not required anymore. The wisdom of public hearing is for the taxpayers to be informed first of their impending obligation to pay additional taxes.

So they should be consulted prior to the approval of the ordinance through a public hearing. But in this case, the taxpayers will even benefit by paying lesser taxes. Thus, a hearing is not required anymore, he said.

What I cannot understand with them (minority) is that this ordinance had already been declared by the DOJ as unconstitutional, and their motion for reconsideration had already been denied. So why are they still defending this anti-people, anti-business kind of ordinance that imposed up to 1,500 percent increase in real property tax to 183,000 landowners in Bacolod? Distrito asked.

Gamboa said the passage of the repealing ordinance on the RPT and the renaming of the government center can be considered abuse of authority and was forced on them (minority).

The SP also repealed an ordinance naming the Government Center as the People's House of Bacolod City,” with the passage on first, second, third and final reading of City Ordinance No. 08-15-750, Series of 2015.

Both repealing ordinances were approved by eight members of the SP, who also authored them, namely Councilors Cano Tan, Cindy Rojas, Renecito Novero, Em Legaspi-Ang, Elmer Sy, Dindo Ramos, Bart Orola and Distrito, the main author.

Gamboa again objected, while Councilors Verdeflor, Ana Marie Palermo, Noli Villarosa and Claudio Puentevella had left the session hall when the repealing ordinance was passed.

Gamboa said that Section 11 of the internal rules, which was approved by the whole members of the SP, states that “Unless the mayor has certified to the necessity of its enactment, no proposed ordinances will be considered during the suspension of the rules.”

The request of the mayor to repeal the ordinance was not docketed as urgent. So under the internal rules, they cannot suspend the rules to pass an ordinance, he said.

He said the validity of the repeal ordinance can also be questioned before the proper court. They can also seek the opinion of the Department of Interior and Local Government.

On the other hand,  Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia said the SP did right by repealing the ordinance renaming the Bacolod Government Center as the "People's House."

“It was its natural birth name and our people had come to embrace it. There was already a strong sense of pride and attachment to it. I have always believed it was immoral for people who threw everything they could to stop the project, to rename the BGC and with such pretentious words,” he said.

Leonardia said this had been one of the major issues in  the last elections, and he believes it was one of those concerns that carried them to victory. And so I rejoice along with our Sanggunian as we bring back the name of our beloved BGC and bring Bacolod "Back on Track", he added. *CGS

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