“The opinion of the Department of Justice proves that the Tax Ordinance passed by Bacolod City was in accordance with law and that all procedures were followed, Bacolod Councilor Al Victor Espino said.
Espino, chairman of the Sangguniang Panlungsod Committee on Finance and Appropriations, said there is still one case pertaining to the Revised Revenue Code of Bacolod City at the Regional Trial Court that was filed by former Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella. However, he believes they will be vindicated in that, as well, he said.
The DOJ denied for lack of merit the motion for reconsideration filed by Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Bacolod Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in its Order dated June 15, 2012 dismissing their Appeal for violation of the rule of non-forum shopping.
Espino said he, together with Mayor Evelio Leonardia and Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson will continue their dialog with the businessmen and he is confident that they are reaching an agreement.
“Although the political and legal questions have already been answered, I believe the city should be responsive to the need of our businessmen,” he said.
The proposal they presented to the businessmen is to come up with a new slate or tax table, he said, adding that they will erase the 2012 rates but will not give rebates.
Espino said they will start in 2013 and give new rates to the businessmen, which they hope they will accept. “We also hope it will keep Bacolod competitive with other cities,” he said.
The MBCCI and BFCCCI will present the proposal of the city to their members and present their opinion to them later, Espino said.
During their last meeting, before the DOJ opinion came out, the businessmen were already prone to accept the proposal of the city, he said.
Espino said they will only tax 40 percent of 1 percent of the taxes due to the city in relation to the business tax. They are only adjusting the tax table of manufacturers and retailers since the tax table of the contractors is already updated, he said.
Under the New Tax Code they will tax 50 percent of 1 percent of the taxes due to the city, while, starting next year, it will be 40 percent of 1 percent with no rebates, he added.
Espino said they are offering a sweet deal because if they start with 40 percent, the next time that they review the Tax Code, they can only add 10 percent. This is a better offer, he said.
“Our businessmen have benefited from low tax rates for so long. I believe Bacolod needs these funds to grow,” Espino said.
They will give the funds they will generate from the New Tax Ordinance to the poor who need more services, he said.
“We will use the funds to improve our traffic, to improve the plight of our relocators in our relocation sites, and to light our city and collect garbage more efficiently,” he added.
Meanwhile, Espino said he disagrees with the statement of Puentevella in a TV interview that “Bacolod has the highest local taxes in the whole Philippines.”I believe he is grossly misinformed,” he said.
Espino said that before the hearing and implementation of the Tax Ordinance, they made a study of the local taxes of neighboring cities like San Carlos, Bago, Talisay and Iloilo, and found that Bacolod is competitive and even collecting taxes lower, compared to these cities.
If Puentevella believes that Bacolod has the highest tax rates, he should have paid his taxes in Iloilo and Cebu cities where his Rolling Hills Memorial Park Inc. has branches., he added.*CGS