A ranking official of the Quezon City government on Sunday hit Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, who is running for mayor in the May elections next year, for supposedly misleading the public on an increase in property tax rate.
“He is lying. The ordinance mentioned by the lawmaker has nothing to do with increasing the land tax rate but refers to the increasing assessed value of properties in Quezon City,” city legal officer Orlando Casimiro said in a statement.
He was referring to Ordinance No. SP-2556, which was passed in 2016 when Mayor Joy Belmonte was still the vice mayor and the city council’s presiding officer.
The measure was passed in compliance with the mandate of Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 as amended that all local government units must conduct real-property assessment every three years.
Defensor on Sunday also pledged to grant all 74,750 enterprises operating in Quezon City a five-percent discount in their local business taxes so they can start hiring back laid-off workers.
“The tax discount is just one of our highly aggressive strategies to swiftly revive all employment-generating economic activities in the city to their pre-pandemic levels,” Defensor said.
“We are counting on the discount to help businesses, especially small and medium enterprises with less than 200 workers, get back on their feet,” he said.
“With the discount, the city will be putting a total of P625 million in cash back in the pockets of business owners, mostly single proprietorship shops,” Defensor said.
The Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order to stop the ordinance’s implementation after it was questioned before the High Court in 2017.
However, the High Court junked the petition in 2018 but the order was never enforced as the fulfillment of Belmonte’s promise during the 2019 campaign that her administration would not increase real-property taxes.
“It is primarily a legislative measure where then-Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte’s role was the presiding officer. As mayor, she never enforced any increase in real property tax. Further, consistent with
her policy and in consideration of the plight of the public during this pandemic, no public auction due to real property tax delinquency was ever conducted during her term,” Casimiro said.
He clarified that the ordinance would not lead to an increase in land tax since it only correctly adjusts land values so landowners may realize higher returns on their lands.
“The taxes are not to be increased,” he said.
While the city government plans to adhere to the increased land values as mandated by law, Casimiro said that enforcement “is not even near the horizon” as the same has been suspended by the city council.
Defensor’s promise not to increase land taxes in Quezon City is not actually new, as Belmonte has been doing it for the past three years, he stressed.
“Please note that during Mayor Joy’s administration, taxes did not increase in the last three years. So Defensor’s promise is moot and old news already,” he maintained.
Defensor filed his certificate of candidacy for Quezon City mayor in the 2022 elections, along with his vice mayoral running mate, former three-term Congressman, and current Councilor Winnie Castelo.
Registered enterprises in Quezon City paid a total of P12.5 billion in local business taxes in 2020.
“To energize household consumption spending, we will also provide P3 billion worth of direct financial aid to the jobless, informal workers, health staff, teachers, police officers, and public-sector employees,” Defensor said.
“We will stimulate not only the supply side of the local economy by helping industries produce more goods and services, but also the demand side by giving extra buying power to consumers,” Defensor said.
Defensor’s team previously unveiled their three-point economic roadmap, worth some P17 billion, to enable Quezon City to recover quickly from the COVID-19 crisis.
Besides the P3 billion in direct financial subsidy to consumers, the plan includes P5 billion in incentives to businesses and P9 billion in new local infrastructure spending to provide jobs and livelihood support to low-income families.