The Bacolod Regional Trial Court Branch 48 denied for lack of merit the petition for certiorari filed by former Bacolod mayor Monico Puentevella on January 23, to prevent the implementation of City Ordinance No. 827, or the new real property tax (RPT) ordinance.
The petition and prohibition with application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order was filed by Puentevella against Mayor Evelio Leonardia, the Sangguniang Panlungsod represented by Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, City Assessor Maphilindo Polvora, and City Treasurer Giovanni Balalilhi, asking the court to set aside C.O. 827 and to declare it unconstitutional for allegedly being violative of the equal protection clause and R.A. 7160 or the Local Government Code.
Puentevella said he is not against taxation but C.O. 827 or “An Ordinance Updating the Schedule of Market Value of Real Properties in the City of Bacolod,” is unconstitutional, exorbitant and unfair, and that he is asking for its review.
In her resolution dated January 29, RTC Judge Rosario Ester Orda-Caise said Puentevella failed to comply with the formal requirements of the petition or make any amendments or attachments during the clarificatory hearing on January 26.
As to form, Puentevella failed to comply with Sections 1 and 4 of Rule 65, particularly failing to attach certified copies of C.O. 827, and that he also failed to state that the ordinance was published last Nov. 14, 2017. Hence, the 60-day period to file any action under Rules 65 had already lapsed, Orda-Caise said.
She said the proper action to declare a law, statute, regulation, or local ordinance as unconstitutional is to file an action for declaratory relief under Rules 63 of the Revised Rules of Court. The petitioner may file the appropriate case if he believes in his position to question C.O. 827.
FINAL AND EXECUTORY
A certificate of finality was issued by Nenita de Vera-Alquizar, Clerk of Court V, stating that the RTC Resolution dated Jan. 29 became final and executory on Feb. 15 since no appeal was made by Puentevella.
Bacolod City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan yesterday said Puentevella did not make any further appeal or make any move to further elevate his petition to the higher court. So the judgment became final.
Bayatan said the petition filed by Puentevella was dismissed because he failed to supply the court with a certified true copy of C.O. 827 and to inform it when the ordinance was published.
“We can say that Puentevella filed the complaint without sincerity, trustworthiness, and without any direction at all,” he said.
According to the court, Puentevella should have filed for declaratory relief. He should have also exhausted administrative remedy by elevating his grievance to the Department of Justice before going to the court, Bayatan said.
So the petition that was dismissed only confirmed that C.O. 827, which is an amendment to the Real Property Tax, is constitutionality valid, he said, adding that “We have already about 80 percent compliance in the payment of real property tax even during the filing of the petition.”
Bayatan said that comparing the real property tax of Puentevlla that was declared unconstitutional, C.O. 827 is pro-people, pro-business, and has no color of political motivation or intention at all.
He should realize that C.O. 827 is fair because even the value of his (Puentevella) property is comparatively the same as all the surrounding properties, unlike his unpopular tax ordinance where the value of his property was lower compared to that of others, he said.
Bayatan said the new rates took effect November 2017.*CGS
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