Hundreds of landowners in Tagum City have questioned the controversial Tax Ordinance No. 558 of the city which, the complainants claimed, would increase the real property tax in the city by 833%.
Lawyer Paulito Suaybaguio and Engr. Ruben Bunagan, landowners from Tagum City, filed a complaint before the Supreme Court on August 13, 2012 questioning the constitutionality of the tax ordinance and asking the High Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the implementation of the questioned ordinance.
In a press conference Tuesday, Suaybaguio said the SC acted on their complaint and directed the respondents, Tagum City Mayor Rey Uy, along with his vice mayor and the City Council, to file their reply affidavit within ten days upon receipt of the SC resolution.
Suaybaguio said the SC resolution was dated September 4 but he received his copy only on October 1.
Asked of the implication of their complaint before the SC, Suaybaguio said they wanted to inform the Tagumeños that there is a pending case before the High Court against the controversial tax ordinance thus the people should not pay the city government pending the decision of the court.
Engineer Bunagan said that had they not filed complaint before the SC, time will come that their landholdings will be lost due to the exorbitant real property tax with the new ordinance.
The complainants said that in 2009, lands in Tagum City are valued at P600/sqm. But with the new tax ordinance, lands along the highways are uniformly valued at P5,000/sqm., P1000/sqm for lands located in rural barangays, and P1,200/sqm for those in urban barangays.
And since real property taxes are ad valorem taxes based on the actual value of the land, Suaybaguio said that the lowest real estate tax they will be paying per hectare is P88,654 to as much as P431,605.
Suaybaguio said the new ordinance also abolished agricultural and residential lands in Tagum City and have only two classification now -- industrial and commercial.
Bunagan said landowners in Tagum were also not given enough prior notice when the City Council was still crafting the ordinance. And when landowners expressed their strong opposition, the two claimed that the City Council did not listen to their complaints and were merely intent on complying with the notice of hearing provision for the passage of the ordinance.
Thus the landowners decided to seek intervention from the Provincial Board of Davao del Norte who in turn agreed with the complainants and disapproved several provisions of the tax ordinance.
Despite this, Bunagan said, the City Council of Tagum still proceeded with the publication of the original text of the tax ordinance last July thereby making the ordinance effective.
As a last recourse, Suaybaguio said they decided to seek help from the Supreme Court.
"Mao ni ang pinaka epektibo na pagpadayag sa among mga reklamo mahitungod sa taas kaayo na buhis ug mejoras na gipahamtang sa kagamhanan sa Tagum City," said Suaybaguio.
"Kung naminaw lang ang mga city officials sa amoa, dili naman unta mudako ning problemaha ni. Dugay na unta ni naresolba," said Bunagan.
The two urged other landowners in Tagum City not to pay until such time the SC decides on their case. They however clarified that they are not enticing a civil disobedience against the city government but are merely exercising their legal options.
"We are not espousing civil disobedience, we are only exhausting all the remedies available under the law. Wala mi tumong na dauton ang mga pulitiko. We are just questioning the ordinance. We want the ordinance be declared null and void on grounds of unconstitutionality," Suaybaguio said.
In a text message Wednesday, Mayor Uy denied the allegation of Suaybaguio. He said he had long been inviting the complainants to a public debate in Tagum to disprove all of their allegations but they never accepted his challenge.
Mayor Uy said the increase in taxes would only be as much as 30% and not 833% as claimed by Suaybaguio. He also denied that residential and agricultural lands are abolished under the new tax ordinance. BOT