Herbert stands pat on veto
DESPITE the plea of Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte and the 36-member Quezon City council, Mayor Herbert Bautista is left with no other option but to stand pat on his decision to veto two tax discounts that would cushion the impact of the city’s recent real-property tax hike.
In an interview, city administrator Aldrin Cuña cited Section 55 of the Local Government Code, which says “once a veto [power] is exercised, there is no other way for the council to overturn it.”
“The council can refile the measure, but I doubt if the mayor will reverse his own decision,” Cuña told Manila Standard.
He said Ordinance No. 20CC-175 and Ordinance No. 20CC-176, which would grant tax discounts to senior citizens and single parents, could prod other “vulnerable sectors” to also seek tax cuts if Bautista approved the measures.
“What about persons with disabilities, the indigent and others? They, too, will follow suit,” Cuna said. “What would the other sectors say, that they have been forgotten? Tax exemption is not easily granted. Even Congress does not grant exemption just like that.”
In thumbing down the two proposals, Bautista said the ordinances “would only give a special right to a certain group of people.”
Moreover, the City Council was not able to conduct public consultations and to publish the ordinances in two daily newspapers of general circulation for three consecutive weeks, Cuña said.
Last Dec.13, the council passed on third and final reading Ordinance No. 20CC-41 to increase the real-property tax of private lots and basic unit construction costs for buildings and other structures pursuant to the Local Government Code. It also passed the two other ordinances meant to cushion the impact of the tax increases on senior citizens and solo parents, which Bautista eventually vetoed.
“There is no legal basis to grant a discount. The law may grant such tax relief in cases of natural calamities, civil disturbances, general failure of crops, or adverse economic conditions, such as a substantial decrease in the prices or agricultural or agri-based products,” Cuña said, quoting the Local Government Code or Republic Act 7160.
District 3 Councilor Allan Benedict Reyes and District 4 Councilor Raquel Malangen earlier filed appeals with the Office of the City Mayor, asking Bautista to overturn his veto.
“Both these measures were passed after much due diligence and careful deliberation as concessions given to our city’s vulnerable sectors, when it became apparent after 29 public consultations relative to the approval of PO20CC-141 that there was a consistent clamor among these sectors for some kind of consideration,” their letter read.
Belmonte, the council’s presiding officer, said they had sent their letter to the mayor.
“The reasonableness of the proposals went through a comprehensive study of the technical working committee and the legal department,” she said.
Tax is an obligation and the lifeblood of not only the city government, “but also of the Republic of the Philippines,” Cuña stressed.
“Since time immemorial, to pay tax is a civic obligation. Taxes apply from womb to tomb. Why reinvent the wheel?” he asked.
Quezon City is now implementing the tax increase on real properties, with Cuna noting what is being taxed is the assessed value of the land and the basic construction cost of buildings and other structures at 5 percent only.