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

SPS. RICARDO P. PELEJO, SR. & CHEDITA A. PELEJO,
Petitioners-Appellants,

CBAA CASE NO. L-115
-versus-

LOCAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS OF THE CITY OF LUCENA,
Appellee,

-and-

THE CITY OF LUCENA AND THE CITY TREASURER AND CITY ASSESSOR OF LUCENA,
Respondent-Appellee.
X – – – — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – x

D E C I S I O N

This appeal, filed with this Board on July 2, 2012 by Petitioners-Appellants, is from the Order issued by the Local Board of Assessment Appeals of the City of Lucena (the “LBAA”) on May 24, 2012 denying Petitioners-Appellants’ Motion for Reconsideration of the LBAA’s Resolution rendered on February 23, 2012 in an unnumbered LBAA case. The records show that a copy of the assailed Order was received by Petitioners-Appellants on June 14, 2012.

ANTECEDENTS
1. On March 20, 2002, the Office of the City Assessor received a copy of a letter dated March 21, 2002 from Mrs. Chedita A. Pelejo who complained the “excessive valuation of our real properties situated at Employees Vill. Subd., gulang-gulang for taxation purposes, under PIN 22-335-1001, and 017-09-221 which the undersign is protesting . . .”

2. On June 18, 2008, the Office of the City Assessor received a copy of a letter dated June 17, 2008 from Mrs. Chedita A. Pelejo who reiterated her protestations previously contained in her letter dated March 20, 2002.

3. On October 14, 2009, the LBAA received a letter dated October 13, 2009 from Petitioners-Appellants, the salient parts of which letter are quoted hereunder, thus:

“It should be remembered that for several years up to 1996, as assessed by the City Assessor (sic) office, our family house has a market value of P40,000.00 with a taxable value of P8,000.00(per TD no, 019-4576 dated Feb, 25, 1982 and OR no. 3870083 dated March 16, 1996,(Xerox copies attached as Mark C & D).How come that from a market value of P40,000.00, it went up to P670,000.00 and has a taxable value of P167,670.00 per property record from PIN 133-00-019-22-335-1001 (copy attachment Mark E).

“The assessment is very excessive considering that it was built in 1969, to be valued at 16 times more in 2002, without any changes, improvements or addition and renovation up to this date. The basis used is impractical, unreasonable and not justifiable.

“May I invite your attention that under Article 309 of the said Local Government Code of 1991, if a residential house has a market value of P175,000.00 and below it is already exempted from the payment of taxes, considering that said Local Government Code of 1991 was already in effect since 1991.”

4. In a letter dated March 3, 2010, the City Assessor informed the LBAA that there was a General Revision in 2001 pursuant to Ordinance 1940, s. 2000 approving the new schedule of market values.

5. In its Resolution dated February 23, 2012, the LBAA ruled:

“After a careful scrutiny of the records and the evidence adduced by both parties, the Board resolves to DENY the appeal of petitioner.

“On technical grounds, this Board cites Section 252 (a) of the Local Government Code of 1991 as legal basis for our denial, pertinent portion of which is hereby quoted as follows:

‘Section 252. Payment Under Protest. (a) No protest shall be entertained unless the taxpayer first pays the tax.’

“The foregoing provision, which is self-explanatory, emphasizes that this Board could only act on the pending protest of petitioner only if the latter had already paid the protested tax and therefore the absence of such payment would not vest this Board of any authority to act on the pending protest.

“In sum, payment should precede protest and not the other way around.

“On the issue of whether or not petitioner received the written notice of the increased assessment on the subject improvement from the City Assessor of Lucena City precipitated by the enactment of Ordinance No. 1940 series of 2000 of the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Lucena City, suffice it to state that the City Assessor of Lucena in his letter dated September 1, 2010 addressed to the Chairman of this Board admitted that “retrieval of notices is not a viable option”. Such being the case, there being no proof of service of the subject written notice much less proof that petitioner actually received the same, the prescriptive period of sixty (60) days to appeal before this Board pursuant to Section 226 of the Local Government Code of 1992 (sic) has not yet ensued and therefore the protest made by petitioner before this Board could be considered premature.”

FINDINGS OF THIS BOARD

The records do not show that a formal appeal was ever filed by Petitioners-Appellants before the LBAA in accordance with the provisions of Section 226 of the Local Government Code of 1991 (the “LGC”). All the Petitioners-Appellants did was write letters addressed to the City Assessor and the LBAA. Therefore, the LBAA, instead of issuing that Resolution dated February 23, 2012, should have written back the Petitioners-Appellants to reduce their grievances to a formal appeal as required under said Section 226.
Anyway, We do not agree with the LBAA’s opinion that the provisions of Section 252 of the LGC should be applicable in this case. The proximate cause of Petitioners-Appellants’ predicament is the alleged excessive assessment of their property. The assessment was done by the assessor – not the treasurer. Section 252 applies only in a case where the taxpayer-appellant believes that the assessment is satisfactory or correct but that the computation or calculation by the treasurer of the realty tax due thereon is erroneous or illegal.
As to the “appeal” being prematurely filed with the LBAA, we do not agree. It is true that the prescriptive period of sixty (60) days under Section 226 starts to run only after receipt by the appellant of the written notice of assessment from the assessor. But, since the taxpayer would be already aware of the new assessment through demands for payments from the treasurer, the taxpayer may appeal to the Local Board even before he receives the written notice of assessment.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is DISMISSED without prejudice. Petitioners-Appellants are hereby advised to appeal the subject assessments made by the City Assessor before the LBAA of Lucena City, preferably with the assistance of a member of the bar.
SO ORDERED.
Manila, Philippines, August 15, 2013.

SIGNED
OFELIA A. MARQUEZ
Chairman

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