An appeal questioning the constitutionality and legality of City Ordinance No. 565, Series of 2011, or “An ordinance approving the Revised Local Revenue Code of Bacolod City was filed by former Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella yesterday before the Department of Justice.
Puentevella said he discussed and shared the concerns raised by the business sector on the huge increase imposed in the new revenue code at a consultation Friday.
He said the gathering was attended by all the major business groups in the city and province and that among those shared during the consultation were the sentiments of businessmen and entrepreneurs of the possibility of transferring their business elsewhere if the cost of doing business in Bacolod City is already way beyond their means.
He said consensus was arrived at that there is a need to avail of the provision of the law that allows a group or any individual to question the tax increase before it becomes irreversibly binding.
He said he also met with representatives of the transport sector who also lament the sizeable increase in the taxes that they will be paying the city as a result of the ordinance.
“Our business community does not oppose increasing taxes because we know that it is necessary for the development and progress of our city. What we are questioning is the huge incremental increase that is being imposed,” he said.
The law allows a maximum tax increase of 10 percent every five years and they feel that it is reasonable, he said.
Puentevella said the new Code however, mandates a whopping 700 percent business tax increase for retailers, 400 percent for private hospitals, 300 percent for wholesalers, distributors and dealers.
“If you are contemplating on putting up a new business this year, you are required to pay 400 percent more in business tax compared to last year’s tariff for newly established business,” he said.
Puentevella, who lost the mayoralty race last election, said he is willing to take a supportive role in his capacity as a local businessman if a group or individuals is willing to raise the matter up with the DOJ.
However, in the event that an appeal or complaint is not yet perfected a few days before the 30-day deadline set by law, Puentevella said he is willing to take up the cudgels on behalf of the business community and ordinary consumers.
Asked for his comments, Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia, said he has anticipated this development, and that during initial talks with businessmen, he made them aware that there are politicians exploiting the situation and asked them not to allow themselves to be used as political tools or even as propaganda materials.
He said “If a businessman files the case it is understandable and we respect that. Even if a case had already been filed, we are still open to talks.”
Yesterday, Leonardia held a dialog with the business groups in Bacolod City at the Government Center on some queries regarding the New Revenue Code and to give them the rationale behind its implementation.
He said the city has very valid and legal basis for implementing the new code. The Local Government Code requires all local governments to amend their Tax Code every five years. The Code of Bacolod has not been amended for the last 18 years, he pointed out.
Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson said the old Tax Code of Bacolod did not conform with the requirement of the Local Government Code and the city is already being required by the national government to comply with all the requirements of the LGC.
Sayson said “Only a business taxpayer of Bacolod who has actually paid his taxes, can file a complaint questioning the New Tax Code. He should show that he has paid in protest before he files the case.”
Leonardia also said that if the competent authorities will rule on the case, they will respect its decision.*CGS