ENVIRONMENT Secretary Roy Cimatu on Friday warned local governments against illegal issuance of tax declaration for forestland.
He said the prohibition was provided under Presidential Decree No. 705 as amended, pertaining to the issuance of certificates of real property tax declaration to persons occupying or possessing parcels of forestland.
Recently, Cimatu issued a memorandum directing all field officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to remind local officials within their respective jurisdiction about the prohibition and the penalty.
“The law is clear that no public officer or employee can issue a certificate of real property tax without securing a certification from the Department that the real property to be declared for taxation is alienable and disposable,” he noted.
Public officials and employees found violating the law could face a jail term of four years, and permanent disqualification from holding elective and appointive positions in government.
There has been a number of irregularities in the issuance of tax declarations by local government units to individuals who are in “open, continuous, exclusive, adverse and notorious possession” of parcels of forestland.
The memo was issued at the height of the government crackdown on erring establishments in Boracay, where residents have been issued tax declarations by LGUs despite the entire island being classified as a forestland.