BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
Bacolod Councilor Al Victor Espino delivered a privilege speech before the Sangguniang Panlungsod during its regular session Wednesday concerning the non-implementation of City Ordinance No. 936 or an “Ordinance granting relief to delinquent real property taxpayers in the City of Bacolod through the condonation of penalties, interest and surcharges being imposed by the city.”
Espino said he has received about 12 complaints regarding the non-implementation of the ordinance. So the taxpayers withheld their payment after being told by the City Treasurer’s Office that they have yet to receive Commission on Audit opinion which is he believes is absurd.
He said the purpose of the ordinance is to generate additional income through collection. This is not to disadvantage to the city but an advantage.
“This will even increase tax revenue generated by the ordinance which encourages delinquent tax payers to pay on time or in advance to avail of the condonation on penalties, interst and surcharges,” Espino said.
The City Treasurer did not inform the SP directly. In fact, City Treasurer Giovanni Balalilhe wrote City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan asking for his legal opinion, he said.
Espino said that he believes they have not been remiss in their duty when they enacted the ordinance. It is only the court or the Sangguniang Panlungsod that can say that it is not in effect anymore by way of another ordinance. That is the only time that this ordinance should not be in effect.
No other person other than the courts or the SP has the right to say whether the ordinance should be implemented or not. This is a slap on the face to the members of Council and does not even give the chief executive, Mayor Evelio Leonardia the courtesy, he said.
The mayor signed the ordinance into law believing that it is just and is correct, he added.
Espino said he and Councilor Dindo Ramos, both authors of the ordinance, are exploring other possible avenues because he does not want this to be a precedent to others. They have enacted the ordinance, it is already in effect and it is ministerial on the City Treasurer to implement it, which he has not done and he has not even informed the vice mayor nor him as chairman.
Ramos said that under the ordinance, delinquent taxpayers have until December 31 to pay in full to avail of 100 percent condonation on penalties. However, if they pay from January to March 31, 2021 the entire basic tax, they can only avail of 50 percent of the condonation and interest charges.
Councilor Archie Baribar suggested to have City Treasurer Giovanni Balalilhe explain to them why he is not fully implementing the ordinance.
“Maybe we can tell him that whatever reservations he has, it is the court now that has jurisdiction to stop the implementation of the ordinance. Unless there is another directive coming from the Department of Finance which he believes it will not issue at this point in time,” he said.
Espino said the ordinance provides that a delinquent taxpayer who will pay in full from September 30 or earlier to December 31 will enjoy 100 condonation on all penalties, interest and surcharges on delinquent real property taxes.
Those who pay in full from January 1 to march 31, 2021 will enjoy 50 percent condonation of penalties, interest and surcharges on delinquent real property tax, he said.*