Republic of the Philippines
Department of Finance
CENTRAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS
7th Floor, EDPC Bldg., BSP Complex
Roxas Boulevard, Manila

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, INC.,
Petitioner-Appellant,
CBAA CASE NO. L-113
-versus- (LBAA CASE NO. LC-01-10)

LOCAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS OF LAOAG CITY,
Appellee,

-and-

ELENA ASUNCION, in her capacity as CITY TREASURER OF LAOAG CITY,
Respondent-Appellee.
X- – – — – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – -X

D E C I S I O N
This Appeal, filed by Petitioner-Appellant Northwestern University, Inc. (“NUI” for brevity) on December 10, 2010, is from the Resolution issued by the Local Board of Assessment Appeals of the City of Laoag (the “LBAA”) on November 9, 2010 in LBAA Case No. LC-01-10.
Alleging that they received a copy of the questioned LBAA Resolution on November 12, 2010, “Appellant NUI hereby respectfully avers that the Local Board of Assessment Appeals ERRED:
“I. In holding that it had no jurisdiction to entertain the Assessment Appeal of NUI and in dismissing the Assessment Appeal based on such opinion;
“II. In denying the Assessment Appeal.”
ANTECEDENTS
1. On September 28, 2009, NUI received from the City Treasurer Elena V. Asuncion of Laoag three (3) Notices of Tax Delinquency on properties with PIN 101-05-064-06-035-B007, 101-05-059-13-001-B010, and 101-05-059-13-001-B009, which, Petitioner later claims as “referring to a portion of the Science and Technology Center (STC), the President’s Quarters and the Alumni House, respectively, all located within the campus premises of Northwestern University, Inc.”;

2. In a letter dated October 19, 2009 and addressed to Engr. Ruben Domingo, the Laoag City Assessor, Petitioner said that “We acknowledge receipt of the Notices of Tax Delinquency . . .“ In that letter, Petitioner informed the City Assessor that the subject properties were exempt from real property tax in accordance with Section 28(3), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution and under Section 234 of the Local Government Code;

3. On July 7, 2010, Petitioner received copies of Warrants of Levy issued by the City Treasurer on June 8, 2010 for the Alumni House (PIN 101-05-059-13-001-B009) and the President’s Quarters (PIN 101-05-059-13-001-B010);

4. On July 22, 2010, Petitioner paid under protest: P72,139.14 per O.R. No. 2131691-W, for the Alumni House (PIN 101-05-059-13-001-B009) and P107,919.17 per O.R. No. 2131690-W, for the President’s Quarters (PIN 101-05-059-13-001-B010);

5. On July 22, 2010, Petitioner filed with the City Treasurer a written protest dated July 21, 2010;

6. On July 29, 2010, Petitioner received from the City Treasurer a letter dated July 29, 2010 denying the Petitioner’s written protest saying that “the president (sic) quarters and the alumni house of the Northwestern University claiming exemption must be the entity actually, directly and exclusively use for religious, charitable or educational purpose.”

In acknowledging receipt of the “Notices of Tax Delinquency” from the City Treasurer, Petitioner-Appellant addressed its letter of October 19, 2009 (par. 2, above) to the City Assessor, Engr. Ruben Domingo.
Under the heading “ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS” in its “Assessment Appeal” before the LBAA, Petitioner stated:
“Appellant NUI hereby respectfully avers that the Appellee Laoag City, through its City Treasurer, erred in denying the protest of the former as follows:

I. In classifying the President’s Quarters of Appellant NUI as “residential” rather than “educational”;
II. In finding the President’s Quarters subject to real property tax;
III. In classifying the Alumni House of Appellant NUI as “residential” rather than “educational”;
IV. In finding the Alumni House subject to real property tax;
V. In assessing and collecting real property tax on the President’s Quarters and Alumni House; and
VI. In disregarding the long-settled doctrine laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Abra Valley College, Inc. vs. Aquino (G.R. No. L-39086, June 15, 1988) discussed in the protest of Appellant NUI.”

In dismissing the appeal for lack jurisdiction, the LBAA, in its Resolution dated November 9, 2010, observed that:
“After a careful evaluation of the records on appeal, it appears that NUI is questioning the classification and assessment of its real properties made by the City Treasurer of Laoag City, Mrs. Elena Asuncion, as may be gleaned from the three Notices of Delinquency in the payment of real property tax (Annexes “C”, “D”, and “E” of the appeal). It also questions the denial by the Laoag City Treasurer of its official protest on the assessment, after paying the taxes due thereon, under protest. The appeal does not at all question any assessment made by the Laoag City Assessor. This Board has jurisdiction only with respect to assessment/s made by the City Assessor of Laoag City pursuant to Article 317 of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Local Government Code of 1991 (Section 226, Local Government Code of 1991), . . .”

There seems to be a confusion over the provisions of Sections 226 and 252, which are quoted hereunder, thus:
“SEC. 266. Local Board of Assessment Appeals. – Any owner or person having legal interest in the property who is not satisfied with the action of the provincial, city or municipal assessor in the assessment of his property may, within sixty (60) days from the date of receipt of the written notice of assessment, appeal to the Board of Assessment Appeals of the province or city by filing a petition under oath in the form prescribed for the purpose, together with copies of the tax declarations and such affidavits or documents submitted in support of the appeal.”

“SEC. 252. Payment Under Protest. – (a) No protest shall be entertained unless the taxpayer first pays the tax. There shall be annotated on the tax receipts the words “paid under protest”. The protest in writing must be filed within thirty (30) days from payment of the tax to the provincial, city treasurer or municipal treasurer, in the case of a municipality within the Metropolitan Manila Area, who shall decide the protest within sixty (60) days from receipt.

(b) The tax or a portion thereof paid under protest, shall be held in trust by the treasurer concerned.

(c) In the event that the protest is finally decided in favour of the taxpayer, the amount of the tax protested shall be refunded to the protestant, or applied as tax credit against his existing or future tax liability.

(d) In the event that the protest is denied or upon the lapse of the sixty day period prescribed in subparagraph (a), the taxpayer may avail of the remedies as provided for in Chapter 3, Title II, Book II of this Code.”

As contemplated under Section 226, the term “Assessment” is “the act or process of determining the value of property, or portion thereof subject to tax, including the discovery, listing, classification, and appraisal of properties.” This act or process of assessment is the duty and function of the assessor.
Section 252, above-quoted, does not exactly lay out the “grounds” or “reasons” under or for which any protest may be lodged against the treasurer. It would, however, be quite absurd and unfair to blame or condemn the treasurer for the actions of the assessor.
As stated, the assessor has the sole duty and responsibility to make assessments of real property. Upon the other hand, the treasurer is responsible for the collection of the real property taxes based on the assessments made by the assessor. To arrive at the tax due on an assessment, the treasurer merely “calculates” the tax due thereon by applying the rates (approved by the sanggunian concerned) to the assessed value as determined by the assessor. The treasurer does not take notice of the assessment until the assessor furnishes the treasurer with the assessment roll.
Incidentally, in view of the definition of the term “assessment” stated above, it would be erroneous to label the “Statements of Real Property Taxes Due” or “Notices of Real Property Tax Delinquency” as “assessments”.
The provisions of Section 252 of the LGC, therefore, would apply only in a case where the taxpayer-appellant believes that the assessment made by the assessor is satisfactory or correct, but that the treasurer’s computation or calculation of the tax due thereon is erroneous or illegal.
Although Petitioners-Appellants are questioning the realty taxes computed or calculated by the treasurer, the latter is not the primary or principal respondent – nor is the amount of taxes due the primary subject matter – in this case. The proximate cause of Petitioners-Appellants’ appeal was the action of the City Assessor in the assessment of subject properties by classifying them as “residential-taxable”. If the assessments were later on adjudged to be illegal or erroneous, such judgment would be enforced against the assessor first. Unless the assessments are changed as to assessed and taxable values of the subject real properties, the treasurer has no recourse but to do his duty.
In light of the provisions of Section 252(d) and, for that matter, Section 253, par. 2 of the LGC, the provisions of Section 226 thereof should be read as follows:
“SEC. 226. Local Board of Assessment Appeals. – Any owner or person having legal interest in the subject property (a) who is not satisfied with the action of the assessor in the assessment of his property, or (b) who is not satisfied with the action or inaction of the treasurer on his claim for refund or credit of taxes paid under protest, or (c) who is not satisfied with the action or inaction of the treasurer on his claim for refund or credit of taxes paid but found to be illegal or erroneous by competent authority, may appeal to the Local Board of Assessment Appeals of the province or city, or municipality within the Metropolitan Manila Area, where the subject property is situated, within the following periods:

(a) If the subject matter of the appeal is the perceived error or errors in the assessment of the property concerned, the appeal to the Local Board of Assessment Appeals, with the concerned assessor as the respondent, shall be filed within sixty (60) days from the appellant’s receipt of the written notice of assessment from the assessor; or

(b) If the subject matter of the appeal is the denial by the treasurer of a claim for refund or credit of realty taxes paid under protest, without questioning the validity or correctness of the assessment made by the assessor, the appeal shall be filed with the Local Board of Assessment Appeals, with the treasurer as the respondent, within sixty (60) days after appellant’s receipt of the written notice from the treasurer denying the claim, if such denial is made by the treasurer within sixty (60) days after the treasurer’s receipt of the claim for refund or credit; or, if the treasurer fails to act on the claim within sixty (60) days from his receipt thereof, the appeal shall be filed with the Local Board of Assessment Appeals within sixty (60) days after the lapse of sixty (60) days from the date the claim was filed with the treasurer; or

(c) If the appeal refers to the denial by the treasurer of a claim for refund or credit of realty taxes, or any other tax levied under Title Two, Book II of R.A. 7160, paid but later found to be illegal or erroneous by competent authority, the appeal shall be filed with the Local Board of Assessment Appeals, with the treasurer as the respondent, within sixty (60) days after appellant’s receipt of the written notice from the treasurer denying the claim, if such denial is made by the treasurer within sixty (60) days after the treasurer’s receipt of the claim for refund or credit; or, if the treasurer fails to act on the claim within sixty (60) days from his receipt thereof, the appeal shall be filed with the Local Board of Assessment Appeals within sixty (60) days after the lapse of sixty (60) days from the date the claim was filed with the treasurer.”

By disclaiming jurisdiction, the LBAA obviously misread the LGC provisions in Section 252, especially paragraph (d) thereof. Petitioner did everything required under Section 252: (1) It paid under protest the corresponding real property tax demanded by the treasurer; (2) It filed a formal protest or claim for refund or credit with the treasurer, which the treasurer denied; and (3) It appealed the treasurer’s denial before the LBAA. Under the circumstances, the LBAA clearly had jurisdiction over the appeal
It is, however, unfortunate that, even if the LBAA entertained the appeal, the same should still be dismissed for being lodged against an improper party-respondent as discussed hereinabove.
We take exception to the LBAA’s observation that “The applicable provision of law, therefore, in this wise, is Art. 285 of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Local Government Code of 1991 (Section 195 of the Local Government Code) . . .”
Section 195 of the LGC refers to “Protest on Assessment” of local taxes, fees or charges under “Local Government Taxation” (Title One, Book II) of the LGC. The subject matter of this case is real property tax under “Real Property Taxation” (Title Two, Book II) of the LGC, not local taxes, fees or charges.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Appeal is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Manila, Philippines, August 13, 2013.

SIGNED
OFELIA A. MARQUEZ
Chairman

ABSTAINED SIGNED
ROBERTO D. GEOTINA CAMILO L. MONTENEGRO
Member Member