Republic of the Philippines

CENTRAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS Manila

JRB REALTY CORPORATION, Petitioner-Appellant,

– versus –

CBAA CASE NO. L-01-92 BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS
OF BAGUIO CITY,

Appellee,

– and –

CITY ASSESSOR OF BAGUIO, Respondent-Appellee.
x – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – x

DECISION

This is an appeal of Petitioner-Appellant JRB Realty Corporation to this

Board on Petitioner-Appellant’s Tax Declaration No. 27028 for one

condominium unit owned by Petitioner-Appellant at Baguio City, which was first

assessed by Respondent-Appellee City Assessor of Baguio as Type 1-A,

contrary to the insistence of Petitioner-Appellant that the said property should

only be assessed as Type 1-C.

This Board, in its Resolution dated April 10, 1991 set aside the

Resolution of the Local Board of Assessment Appeals of Baguio City, dated

September 30, 1988, and directed the Local Board to conduct further

proceedings and render its decision on the merits.

On 17 December 1991, the Local Board of Assessment Appeals of

Baguio City rendered a Resolution adopting the “Offer of Solution” by

Respondent-Appellee City Assessor, a portion of which reads as follows:

“. . . After an ocular inspection conducted by this Office as suggested by Appellant’s OFFER OF EVIDENCE, dated August 21, 1991, it was confirmed that the walls of Montepino Condominium building was made of hollow block: hence, the offer to resolve the case is to correct the type applied from 1-A to 1-B, instead of 1-C as mentioned in the said OFFER OF EVIDENCE.”

On the assessment classifying Petitioner-Appellant’s condominium unit

from 1-A to 1-B, the instant appeal is again before this Board as elevated by

Reference: Book VII, pp. 1-13

Petitioner-Appellant, reiterating its insistence that its condominium unit should

be classified as Type 1-C, assigning the following errors, to wit:

I

THE LOCAL BOARD DID NOT RESOLVE APPELLANT’S APPEAL.

II

THE LOCAL BOARD LEGISLATED CHANGES/AMENDMENTS TO THE TYPES AND STRUCTURAL CLASSIFICATIONS OF BUILDINGS ALTHOUGH WITHOUT THE PREROGATIVE THEREFOR.

III

THE LOCAL BOARD DENIED APPELLANT DUE PROCESS.

It will be recalled that in the month of July, 1990, the 16th day of that

month to be specific, a disastrous killer quake struck Luzon intensively including

the City of Baguio as one of the worst hit places, rendering the said property

uninhabitable as found out and ordered by the authorities of Baguio City,

thereby compelling the office of the Respondent-Appellee City Assessor of

Baguio to drop from the taxable roll the subject condominium unit of Petitioner-

Appellant. In an open court manifestation of Respondent-Appellee City

Assessor of Baguio, the latter declared that a refund of real property taxes by

the City Treasurer of Baguio in favor of Petitioner-Appellant had to be made

effective on the date the subject property covered by Tax Declaration No.

27028 was declared unfit for habitation, per notice of cancellation, dated

November 5, 1991, issued to Petitioner-Appellant by Mr. Romeo J. Gomez, City

Assessor of Baguio (Exh. “1” – “1-B”), followed by another letter, dated July 22,

1992, similarly addressed to Petitioner-Appellant and likewise coming from City

Assessor Gomez (Exh. “2”).

The records of this case reveal that after the July 1990 earthquake

rendered the subject property of the Appellant unfit for habitation, no less than

the Engineers coming from the Office of the City Engineer of Baguio (Exh. “1”,

“1-A”, “1-B”) and Respondent-Appellee City Assessor, conducted an ocular

inspection of property to determine the extent of its damage, and found out the

same as a “major” one. On the basis of ocular inspection, Respondent-Appellee

Reference: Book VII, pp. 1-13

City Assessor thereafter submitted his OFFER OF SOLUTION, reassessing

Petitioner-Appellant’s property from Type 1-A to Type 1-B which was thereafter

made as the basis for Appellee Local Board of Assessment Appeals of Baguio

City’s Resolution of December 17, 1991, which likewise credited Appellant’s

property a seventeen percent (17%) depreciation cost (Please see Annex 2,

Answer, Respondent-Appellee), to be applied to the Type 1-B assessment. In a

nutshell, the Respondent-Appellee entirely changed its previous assessment

originally contested by Petitioner-Appellant, after an ocular inspection of the

already damaged property of Petitioner-Appellant.

The three assigned errors brought up by Petitioner-Appellant allegedly

committed by Respondent-Appellee City Assessor of Baguio and Appellee

Local Board of Assessment Appeals of Baguio City may be discussed jointly as

they are closely interrelated with one another.

There is no showing that the Respondent-Appellee City Assessor of

Baguio City and Appellee Local Board of Assessment Appeals of Baguio City

committed a grave abuse of discretion which should warrant reversal of the

Resolution of the Appellee Local Board, dated December 17, 1991.

It will be recalled that the focal point of controversy raised by the

Appellant revolves around two issues only, namely: the type and class of

Petitioner-Appellant’s condominium unit, and the applicable percentage of

depreciation which, according to Petitioner-Appellant, were wrongly addressed

by the Respondent-Appellee City Assessor of Baguio and Appellee Local Board

of Assessment Appeals of the said city. This Board concurs with the

observation of the Appellee Local Board, in its Resolution of December 17,

1991, that “the only issues left as raised by Petitioner-Appellant are the type of

the building construction and the matter of depreciation.” (Page 3, Resolution)

In Petitioner-Appellant’s OFFER OF EVIDENCE, dated August 21, 1991,

on page two therein, Exhibit “D” was offered with the following description and

purpose:

Reference: Book VII, pp. 1-13

“Photographs of the walls of said Apartment 2D after the 16th July 1990 earthquake wherefrom visible from the fallen plasterings thereof, that the walls thereof are merely of hollow blocks. An ocular inspection of said Apartment 2D can be conducted by this Honorable Board even in the absence of appellant, for which appellant hereby authorizes whomever it may concern at the Montepino Apartments Building to allow entry of this Honorable Board and/or representatives into said Apartment 2D.” (Underlining supplied).

At this juncture, a reminder to Petitioner-Appellant may be in order, that

its OFFER OF EVIDENCE was made for the reason that for the scheduled

“2:00 p.m. 11th September 1991 hearing” set by Appellee Local Board of

Assessment Appeals of Baguio City, “appellant JRB Realty Corporation cannot

personally attend from (sic) the time-consuming effort and expenses to go to

Baguio City…” (First Paragraph, Offer of Evidence). In short, Petitioner-

Appellant waived its right to attend further hearings that may have been

scheduled by Appellee Local Board, and instead opted to submit its written

Offer of Evidence, which formal offer, to all legal intents and purposes, is a

conclusive submission to the power and authority of the Local Board as a

quasi-judicial body performing judicial functions, to rule on the admissibility of

Petitioner-Appellant’s evidences offered and for the Appellee Local Board

thereafter to render its decision, and where further hearings are no longer

necessary as the Rules of Court prescribes if applied suppletorily in the case at

bar. In other words, after the formal offer of one’s evidences, if both parties so

decide, there is no more necessity for a further hearing but what comes next is

the decision or resolution of the hearing body. The grievance, therefore, aired

by Petitioner-Appellant before this Board that it was not given due process

because he was not notified of any hearing after the scheduled “2:00 p.m. 11th

September 1991 hearing” appears impertinent, nay, preposterous because of

its explicit waiver to a further hearing by the Local Board and its final

submission of a written Offer of Evidence. What was expected to happen if

there was a further hearing conducted by the Local Board after the submission

of the OFFER OF SOLUTION by Respondent-Appellee City Assessor of

Baguio, would be a never-ending arguments between Petitioner-Appellant and

Reference: Book VII, pp. 1-13

the Respondent-Appellee City Assessor of Baguio City. After the Petitioner-

Appellant allowed per its own suggestion, the Respondent-Appellee to conduct

an ocular inspection of his property even in his absence, Petitioner-Appellant

cannot now be allowed to question the findings of the Respondent-Appellee

City Assessor, nay, the Appellee Local Board of Assessment Appeals. This

Board is not in a position to substitute the factual findings of the Respondent-

Appellee who made the actual ocular inspection of the property in question. It is

a settled rule that findings of fact by the trial court or body deserve greater

respect by appellate courts or bodies, except where there is a clear showing of

a grave abuse of discretion committed by the lower hearing bodies which is

absent in the case at bar. (Ricardo Villaflor vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 192

SCRA 680; Macua et al. vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, et al., 155 SCRA 29).

Moreover, Petitioner-Appellant is guilty of estoppel in pais. “Through

estoppel an admission or representation is rendered conclusive upon the

person making it and can not be denied or disproved as against the person

relying thereon” (Art. 1431, New Civil Code). The Petitioner-Appellant submitted

his OFFER OF EVIDENCES, the last stage in any hearing prior to a judgment,

authorizing the Appellee Local Board or authorities to make an ocular

inspection of its subject property for purposes of finally verifying Petitioner-

Appellant’s assertion that the condominium unit 2D is Type 1-C, and Petitioner-

Appellant’s OFFER OF EVIDECNES prays for reliefs and remedies in its favor.

“The doctrine of estoppel in pais is said to be dictated by the principles of morality and fair dealing and is intended to subserve the ends of justice. It concludes the truth in order to prevent fraud and falsehood and impose silence on a party only when in conscience and honesty he should be not allowed to speak.” (19 A. Jur. 641).

The formal offer of evidences by a party to a case is the last procedural

stage in a trial after which the court or hearing body renders judgment, unless a

reservation is made by a party to produce further rebuttal evidences as against

the evidences of the opposing party.

Reference: Book VII, pp. 1-13

In the instant case, the Petitioner-Appellant by its Offer of Evidences, is

deemed to have already rested its case. But in the nature of a counter-evidence

to Petitioner-Appellant’s Exhibit “D” asserting that the type of its condominium

unit 2D is type 1-C, the Respondent-Appellee City Assessor of Baguio also

formally offered in writing his OFFER OF SOLUTION after an ocular inspection

of Petitioner-Appellant’s property as authorized by the latter, now the Assessor

asserting to the contrary that Petitioner-Appellant’s condominium unit should be

rightly classified only as Type 1-B, and thereafter, the Respondent-Appellee

City Assessor of Baguio is likewise deemed to have also rested his case. What

follows thereafter, by necessity, was for the Appellee Local Board to render its

decision to resolve the two contradicting positions and assertions of the parties,

where the Appellee Local Board rules in favor of the findings of the

Respondent-Appellee City Assessor of Baguio.

“The conclusions and findings of fact by the trial court are entitled to great weight and will not be disturbed on appeal, unless for strong and cogent reasons. Because the trial court is in a better position to examine as well as to observe the demeanor of the witnesses while testifying on the case.” (Ricardo Villaflor vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 192 SCRA 680; Macua, et al. vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, et al., 155 SCRA 29).

This Board cannot stretch further what the Respondent-Appellee City

Assessor of Baguio found out in his ocular inspection of the subject property,

that truly it is Type 1-B, as concurred in by Appellee Local Board of Assessment

Appeals of Baguio City. “When the value of real property had been fixed by the

assessor concerned and the members of the Appellee Board, after all

circumstances and elements of value have been considered, the Central Board

will not be presumptuous to intervene with the intelligent exercise of judgment

by men especially trained in property appraisal.” (Matea Ancanan versus BAA

of Quezon City and City Assessor of Quezon City, CBAA Case No. 24) This

Board in the CBAA Case No. 260 Asuncion M. Jamora vs. BAA of Manila and

the City Assessor of Manila, further ruled that

“x x x, considering that these issues are factual in character, the Board had “to respect the findings of the Respondent-Appellee, inasmuch as he is in a better position to appreciate and evaluate the facts by reason of his expertise on the matter. Besides, as the records show, there is nothing in the

Reference: Book VII, pp. 1-13

evidence to show that the Respondent-Appellee had abused his discretion by a disregard of some facts or circumstances, which would support a finding to the contrary.”

The Petitioner-Appellant was not deprived of his right to due process of

law.

The Appellee Local Board of Assessment Appeals of Baguio City indeed

correctly made a decision and resolved the Appellant’s appeal based on

existing assessment regulations followed religiously by the respondents,

because to stretch this regulation further and classify Petitioner-Appellant’s

property into Type 1-C is to the liking of Petitioner-Appellant would clearly

become illegal already for it is no longer within the prerogative and discretion of

the Respondent-Appellee City Assessor to do so. The Petitioner-Appellant,

after receipt of the Resolution of the Appellee Local Board, dated December 17,

1991, was afforded all chances to express its objections to the findings of the

Respondent-Appellee City Assessor of Baguio, through Petitioner-Appellant’s

Motion for Reconsideration filed before the Appellee Local Board which was

also ruled upon by the said Board, and up to the instant appeal before this

Board now. All these remedies were availed of by the Petitioner-Appellant.

Losing a case before any court or body cannot be interpreted to mean as a

denial of due process of law for the losing party. In every litigation, one party

has to win and the other should lose, though humbly.

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered

affirming the Resolution of the Local Board of Assessment Appeals of Baguio

City en toto.

SO ORDERED.

Manila, Philippines

April 25, 1994

(Signed) MARGARITA G. MAGISTRADO
Chairman

Reference: Book VII, pp. 1-13

(Signed) ELEANOR A. SANTOS
Member

(Signed) ALFONSO M. MEDADO
Member

Reference: Book VII, pp. 1-13