Republic of the Philippines

CENTRAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS Manila

THE PROVINCIAL ASSESSOR PROVINCE OF BATANGAS,
Respondent-Appellant,

-versus-

THE LOCAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT CBAA CASE NO. L-39 OF THE PROVINCE OF BATANGAS,
Appellee,

-and-

PUYAT STEEL CORPORATION, Petitioner-Appellee.
x – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – x

D E C I S I O N

This is an appeal from the Order of the Local Board of Assessment

Appeals of Batangas, dated April 20, 2003 and received by the appellant on May

8, 2003, on the following grounds:

I. THE LBAA ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE APPEAL TAKEN

BY THE APPELLEES FROM THE ASSESSMENT OF THE

PROVINCIAL ASSESSOR WAS FILED OUT OF TIME, HENCE

SHOULD HAVE BEEN OUTRIGHTLY DISMISSED BY THE LBAA.

II. THE LBAA ERRED IN ENTERTAINING THE SUBJECT PETITION

CONSIDERING THAT NO PAYMENT UNDER PROTEST HAD

BEEN MADE BY THE APPELLEES.

III. THE LBAA ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE QUESTIONED

ASSESSMENTS ARE NOT SUPPORTED BY EVIDENCE

THE FACTS AND THE CASE

On October 20, 1998, then Provincial Assessor, Lauro C. Andaya sent a

letter to Puyat Steel Corporation, the herein appellee thru Mrs. Arlene Mariano,

Administration and Finance Manager of Puyat Steel Corporation, inviting her

attention to the provisions of Sec. 203 of Republic Act 7160, also known as the

Local Government Code, regarding the filing of sworn statement declaring the

true and current value of the plant building, machinery and equipment of the said

Reference: Book XII, pp. 36-43

company installed and located in Brgy. Masaya, Rosarion, Batangas. The letter

was received by the appellee on November 6, 1998.

The appellee gave no response to the said first letter, and so the erstwhile

Provincial Assessor Andaya sent another letter to Mrs. Mariano on December 17,

1998 reiterating the need of her company to file the required sworn statement. In

the second letter, it was stated that in the event that the corporation will again

ignore the filing of the sworn statement, the Provincial Assessor would declare

the property at P1.5 Billion sourced from DWAM News Bureau. The letter was

received by the appellee on January 14, 1999.

Receiving no response to the second letter, Mr. Andaya summoned Ms.

Arlene Mariano in his letter dated February 3, 1999 to appear before the

Provincial Assessor’s Office on February 22, 1999 in order to give information

concerning the ownership, nature, amount and value of the property of Puyat

Steel Corporation for assessment purposes pursuant to Sec. 213 of R.A. 7160.

The fourth and final letter to the Provincial Assessor was sent on May 21,

1999 giving Ms. Arlene Mariano until May 31 of that same year to finally submit

the requested sworn statement otherwise inspection was to be expected on June

14, 1999. The letter was received on May 31, 1999.

All four letters sent by Mr. Andaya were not favored with any reply by the

appellee prompting the former to conduct an inspection of the plant building,

machinery and equipment of the appellee on June 15, 1999. Exercising the

powers vested upon him under the provisions of Sec. 204 of R.A. 7160, Mr.

Andaya made assessments on the properties of the appellees contained in five

(5) tax declarations, particularly, Tax Declaration Nos. 027-00586, 027-00587,

027-00588, 027-00589 and 027-00590 all effective in 1999 except for Tax

Declaration No. 027-00587. Warehouse Expansion with effectivity in 2000.

On November 3, 1999, the Notice of Assessment and Tax Bill was issued

Puyat Steel Corporation. The same was received as shown in the registry return

Reference: Book XII, pp. 36-43

receipt bearing date, December 9, 1999 per rubber stamp mark of the Batangas

Post Office.

On April 30, 2002, the Provincial Treasurer of Batangas issued a Warrant

of Levy on the properties of Puyat Steel Corporation for the total amount of tax

delinquencies of P74,574,595.86 covering tax years/period of 1999 to April 2002.

In view of the said Warrant of Levy, the appellee particularly paid the

amount totaling Three Million Four Hundred Forty Four Thousand One Hundred

Forty Four Pesos & 59/100 P3,444,144.59) on May 24, 2002, and on July 9,

2002. It is expressly annotated on the official receipts issued that such payments

were made by virtue of the Warrant of Levy.

On July 9, 2002 Puyat Steel Corporation filed a Petition before the Local

Board of Assessment Appeals appealing the assessment on the properties

covered by Tax Declaration Nos. 027-00586, 027-00587, 027-00588, 027-00589

and 027-00590, praying for the revision, reduction or adopting altogether of

another assessment level on the said properties.

The LBAA issued the questioned Order dated April 20, 2003, hence the

foregoing appeal, pursuant to Section 229 of the Local Government Code.

During the last hearing of this case on March 19, 2004, both appellant and

appellees manifested that they be given up to April 12, 2004 to come up with a

compromise agreement. This Board in line with the Supreme Court’s program of

alternative dispute resolution (ADR) supports and encourage such

developments. The parties were given up to April 12, 2004 within which to file or

submit the said compromise agreement. It was agreed upon by the parties to

submit the case for resolution in the event that they failed to resolve the case

amicably by that date. More than a year had passed and not even a whimper

was heard from both parties.

This case then is deemed submitted for resolution.

In all judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings, once the issue of jurisdiction

is raised, it must be first be addressed and settled before all others, including the

Reference: Book XII, pp. 36-43

merits can be discussed. It is basic that since jurisdiction is the power and legal

authority to hear and decide justiciable issues, the lacd or loss of it will render all

proceedings before the courts, boards, or tribunals a nullity. Jurisdiction therefore

takes precedence over and above all issues and that is the reason why we will

tackle it first.

The following facts are not contested.

The appellant sent the notice of assessment and tax bill to the appellee on

November 3, 1999 and was received by the latter on December 7, 1999. It was

only on July 9, 2002 that the appellee filed before the Local Board of Batangas a

petition praying for the revision, reduction or adopting another assessment level

on its properties. From the receipt of the notice of assessment to the filing of the

petition with the LBAA is a total of two years, seven months, and two days.

Under section 226 of R.A. 7160, the dissatisfied owner or person having legal

interest in the property has only sixty (60) days from receipt of the notice of

assessment in which to appeal or question before the LBAA the assessment.

Clearly the reglementary period to appeal had lapsed many times over.

What is the effect of such lapse?

The Supreme Court and the Central Board of Assessment Appeals in a

long line of rulings and holdings consistently maintained that perfection of the

appeal within the reglementary period is mandatory and jurisdictional, to wit:

“The Local Board might not even have acquired jurisdiction over the case.

Settled is the principle that the requirement regarding the perfection of appeals

within the reglementary period is not only mandatory but jurisdictional.” (Roman

Catholic Archbishop vs. Director of Lands, 34 Phils. 623, Provincial Assessor of

Bulacan vs. Luzon Cement Corp. and Lucenco Marketing Inc. and BAA of

Bulacan, CBAA Case No. 16, Bermudez vs. Director of Lands, 36 Phil. 774)

“For failure of Getty Oil (Phil.) to make a timely appeal with the Local

Board, the disputed assessment had become final, conclusive and unapealable

long before this case was originally filed in the Local Board, in view of which this

Reference: Book XII, pp. 36-43

case should have been dismissed.” (City Assessor of General Santos vs. BAA of

General Santos and Getty Oil (Phil.) CBAA Case No. 39.

“When the appeal was filed out of time, it was as if no appeal had been

filed, and in fact the petitioner-appellant was “deprived of his right to be heard in

that Board.” Therefore, the assessment made by the City Assessor was not

disturbed and has remained enforceable.

It has been held that the remedy of a taxpayer who disagrees with a tax

assessment is to appeal to the Local Board and that his failure to do so

constitutes a waiver of the defenses against the assessment and stops him from

subsequently raising his objection thereto, otherwise, the period of sixty days for

appeal to the Local Board would make little sense.” (Unlad Resources

Development Corp. vs. BAA of Manila and City Assessor of Manila, CBAA Case

No. 121, Republic vs. Del Rosario, 105 Phil. 277, Uy Ham vs. Republic, 106 Phil.

1162)

All these self-explanatory pronouncements are fatal to the cause of the

petitioner.

The “undelivered letter addressed to the Provincial Assessor coursed thru

the Mayor of Rosario, Batangas” merit scant consideration from this Board. It

was not addressed to the Local Board of Assessment Appeals and not in the

proper form, hence cannot be considered as the appeal contemplated by law. At

most, it is a motion for reconsideration on the assessment made by the assessor.

Moreover, this practice was interdicted by the Supreme Court in the Callanta

case (G.R. Nos. 115253-74, January 30, 1998) as a remedy not sanctioned by

law.

Similarly situated is the time barred petition filed against the assessor by

the petitioner-appellant before the Local Board on July 5, 2002 praying for the

revision, reduction, etc. of the latter’s assessments. It is rather strange why the

Local Board, instead of dismissing the petition for being belatedly filed, would

consider it as filed under section 252 of R.A. 7160 when it is obvious that it was

Reference: Book XII, pp. 36-43

filed against the assessor for revision and/or reduction of the assessments. The

Local Board should know or ought to know that it is the treasurer who is the

respondent under sec. 252. Said appeal is for the recovery of taxes paid under

protest denied or not acted upon by the treasurer.

The Highest Court ruled that “the right to appeal is a mere statutory

privilege and may be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the

provision of law.” (Bello vs. Fernando, G.R. L-16970; Tirono vs. Caluag, G.R. No.

344001). This Board also held that “finding the present appeal not made in the

manner and in accordance with the provisions of the Real Property Tax Code, to

our mind it may not be exercised by respondent-appellant. (City Assessor of

Baguio vs. BAA of Baguio City and Benguet Consolidated Inc. CBAA Case No.

46)

In view of the foregoing, the original petition filed before the Local Board

not made in the manner and in accordance with law, and being filed only after

two years, seven months and two days after the receipt of the notice of

assessment way beyond the 60 day period as provided by law is clearly in

violation of that statutory privilege.

The petitioner-appellee is trying to invoke equity to persuade this Board to

favor its cause. A legal maxim, revered and held sacred both in the courts of law

and equity states “those who come to equity, must come with unblemished

hands.” From the time Ms. Arlene Mariano, Administration and Finance Manager

of petitioner-appellee repeatedly ignored and disregarded the appellants

requests and admonitions for them to voluntary file the sworn statements of the

fair and current market values of its properties as required by law, the

undelivered letter to the assessor irregularly addressed to a Mayor with attendant

negligence, up to its failure to appeal grossly on time during the 60 day period

allowed by law, are actuations undeserving of equitable considerations. Equity

frowns upon those who disregard the laws and sleep on their rights.

Reference: Book XII, pp. 36-43

This Board finds for the appellant who correctly questioned the lack of

jurisdiction of the Local Board. The reglementary period to appeal being both

mandatory and jurisdictional, serves as a bar to those who failed to observe it.

Non observance of the prescriptive period to appeal deprives the Local Board of

its original jurisdiction to hear and decide the petition.

We deemed it unnecessary to delve on the other issues raised after finding

that the Local Board has no jurisdiction, rendering all its proceedings an exercise

in futility. The assessments of the appellant has become final and the right of the

local government to collect the taxes has become absolute.

WHEREFORE, the appealed Order is set aside and relegated to the

dustbin of nullity. The assailed tax assessments are considered final, undisturbed

and enforceable.

SO ORDERED.

Manila, Philippines, April 19, 2005.

(Signed) CESAR S. GUTIERREZ
Chairman

(Signed)
ANGEL P. PALOMARES Member

(Signed) RAFAEL O. CORTES
Member

Reference: Book XII, pp. 36-43