Mayor Rama rejects revised property tax code

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama has rejected the ordinance that approved the revised real property tax (RPT) rates, citing that it does not express the true values of properties and deprives the City Government of a proper source of funds.

The revised RPT Code, which was approved by the Sangguniang Panlungsod on Dec. 30, 2022, was expected to fuel the approved P50 billion 2023 budget of the City Hall.

In his veto letter dated Feb. 6, 2023, Rama said the ordinance enacting the revised RPT Code is prejudicial to the public welfare and “ultra vires,” a Latin term that describes an action taken by a government entity that exceeds the scope of power given to it by laws.

Under the approved ordinance, residential lots will have an assessment level of two percent, commercial lots of 10 percent, industrial lots of 10 percent, agricultural lots of 4.8 percent and special lots of 10 percent.

The initial version of the ordinance during its deliberation was much higher making it “excessive and oppressive,” according to some city councilors.

Rama said the approved ordinance violates Article 201 of the Local Government Code, which provides that real property shall be appraised at the current and fair market value prevailing in the locality.

He added that the ordinance was not in conformity with the property values presented by the city assessor.

“Some of the approved valuations did not even reach half of the proposed value by the local assessor,” read a portion of Rama’s veto letter.

Councilor Noel Wenceslao, the author of the ordinance, said in a previous interview that the revision of the RPT can generate only up to P12 billion in revenue, which is P40 billion short to cover the approved 2023 budget.

With this, Rama said the ordinance is not showing the true valuation of real properties within the city and in effect deprives the local government of proper sources of funds in implementing its programs, projects and plans for the benefit of the people of Cebu City.

“Current and fair market values of properties in Cebu City must prevail. Valuation should be dependent on prevailing and economic forces. It [has] not change[d] since 2004,” read a portion of Rama’s statement dated Sunday, Feb. 12.

He further said tax is the lifeblood of the government and the people have been waiting for the efficient delivery of basic services and “the poor cannot wait.”

Rama said he will re-introduce another proposal to the Sanggunian to revise the RPT Code.

In an interview with SunStar Cebu Sunday, Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia said he only heard about Rama’s veto but has not yet formally received a copy of the veto letter.

“When I will receive the copy of the veto letter, then I will call immediately for a meeting with all the councilors on what actions we will take thereafter,” said Garcia.