Republic of the Philippines
CENTRAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS
M a n i l a

AFP RETIREMENT and SEPARATION BENEFITS SYSTEM (AFPRSBS),
Petitioner-Appellant,
CBAA CASE NO. L-62
-versus- (LBAA Case No. 2003-02)
Parañaque City
LOCAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS FOR THE CITY OF PARAÑAQUE,
Appellee,

-and-

CITY ASSESSOR OF PARAÑAQUE,
Respondent-Appellee.
X – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – /

D E C I S I O N

This is an Appeal from the Resolution rendered by the Local Board of Assessment Appeals for the City of Parañaque on 7 March 2005 in LBAA Case No. 2003-02, a copy of which Appeal was received by Appellant on March 31, 2005. This Appeal was filed with this Board on May 3, 2005.

Petitioner-Appellant alleges that:

“Appellant it is a government corporation and a pension fund of the Armed Forces of the Philippines duly created pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 365, as amended, with office address at 424 Capinpin Avenue, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

“Appellant is the owner of certain parcels of land located in the City of Parañaque more particularly described as follows:

Tax Dec. No. Lot Number TCT Number
E-002-07527 Lot No. 5B TCT No. 147013
E-002-07555 Lot No. 6A TCT No. 154638
E-002-07556 Lot No. 6B TCT No. 154639
E-002-07557 Lot No. 6C TCT No. 154641
E-002-07558 Lot No.6D TCT No. 154640
E-002-07559 Lot No. 6E TCT No. 154642

“On January 28, 2004, the Appellant received from the Appellee copies of the Revised Declarations of Real Properties together with copies of Real Property Tax Order of Payment (RPTOP), increasing substantially (by 50%%) the assessed value of the above-described parcels of land owned by the Appellant beginning the year 2004, the details of which are as follows:

Tax Dec. No. Lot Number TCT Number Assessed Value
E-002-07527 Lot No. 5B TCT No. 147013 P37,686,000.00
E-002-07555 Lot No. 6A TCT No. 154638 P21,578,900.00
E-002-07556 Lot No. 6B TCT No. 154639 P30,000,000.00
E-002-07557 Lot No. 6C TCT No. 154641 P27,418,140.00
E-002-07558 Lot No.6D TCT No. 154640 P 8,063,400.00
E-002-07559 Lot No. 6E TCT No. 154642 P37,137,410.00

“Copies of the said Revised Tax Declarations of Real Properties together with copies of Real Property Tax Order of Payment (RPTOP), are hereto attached as Annexes “A” to “A-5”.

“The said parcels of land were assessed for the year 2003 in the amounts here under-cited (sic) as evidence (sic) by the Declarations of Real Property, copies of the said Declarations of Real Property are hereto attached as Annexes “B” to “B-5” as follows:

Lot Number Assessed Value
Lot No. 5B P18,843,000.00
Lot No. 6A P10,789,450.00
Lot No. 6B P15,000,000.00
Lot No. 6C P13,709,070.00
Lot No.6D P 4,031,700.00
Lot No. 6E P16,880,640.00

“From the revised Declarations of Real Property and the Real Property Tax Order of Payment (RPTOP) (Annexes “A” to “A-5”), it clearly appears that the reason for the reassessment and the increase in the assessed value of the cited properties beginning 2004 is the passage of Parañaque City Ordinance No. 03-06 Series of 2003, a copy of the said Ordinance is hereto attached as Annex “C”. The cited Ordinance of the City of Parañaque determines and delineates the barangay boundaries in the reclaimed area in Manila Bay within the territorial jurisdiction of the City of Parañaque by adopting the straight-line method. Section 1 of the said ordinance specifically provides as follows:

“SECTION 1. The territorial boundaries of the different barangays in the reclaimed areas in Manila Bay shall be determined by using the straight line method.” Italics and emphasis supplied.

“As a consequence of the passage of the said ordinance, the subject properties of the Appellant were transferred from Barangay Tambo to Barangay Baclaran.

“The Appellant assailed and contested the afore-said reassessment and increase in the assessed value made on the subject properties of the Appellant citing the following as grounds or bases thereof:

“1. The Parañaque City Ordinance No. 03-06 Series of 2003 is null and void for failure to observe the requirements set forth under Sec. 385 of the Local Government Code;

“2. The reassessment and increase in the assessed value of the subject properties has no legal and factual basis since if (sic) failed to comply with the requirements of Sec. 220 of the Local Government Code which provides for instances where reassessment and increase in the assessed value may be validly made by the local government unit concerned;

“3. Such reassessment and increase in the assessed value violated the fundamental principle of uniformity of real property taxation; and

“4. The Appellee failed to give the Appellant a written notice of the revise/new (sic) assessment as mandated by Section 223 of the Local government (sic) Code.

“The Local Board of Assessment Appeals however, in a Resolution dated 07 March 2005, a copy of which is attached hereto as Annex “D”, denied the Appeal and pronounced that considering the issues raised by herein Appellant are anchored as to whether or not of (sic) Parañaque City Ordinance No. 03-06 Parañaque, Series of 2003 is valid and/or constitutional, settlement of such question must be resolved in the proper forum, the dispositive portion of which, reads as follows:

‘Therefore, since the issues raised by the Appellant are anchored as to whether or not Parañaque City Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003 is valid and/or constitutional, settlement of such question must be resolved in the proper forum, which will in turn answer all attendant questions.

The instant appeal is hereby DENIED.

xxx xxx xxx‘

“Hence, this instant appeal.

“GROUNDS FOR APPEAL

“1. The LBAA erred in concluding that the issues raised by the Appellant are anchored solely on the validity and constitutionality of Parañaque City Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003; and

“2. The LBAA erred in denying the Appeal on Assessment filed by the Appellant.

“DISCUSSION AND ARGUMENTS

“1. The LBAA erred in concluding that the issues raised by the Appellant are anchored solely on the validity and constitutionality of Parañaque City Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003.”

Appellant argues:

1. that, while it is true that the Appellant questioned the legality or validity of Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003, in Appellant’s Appeal, the other issues raised by Appellant have nothing to do with the validity or constitutionality of the said ordinance;

2. that, contrary to the claims of the Appellee and the conclusion of the Honorable LBAA, Parañaque City Ordinance No. 03-06 Series of 2003 is not a tax ordinance considering that it has nothing to do with revenue generation nor with the imposition of taxes.

3. That the said Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003, is null and void for not being in accordance with of the provisions of Sections 10 and 385 of the Local Government Code.

“2. The LBAA erred in denying the Appeal on Assessment filed by the Appellant.”

Appellant argues:

1. that, even assuming for the sake of argument that the questioned ordinance is a valid ordinance, still the questioned assessment and increase in the assessed value is erroneous for lack of any legal and factual basis;

2. that Section 220 of the Local Government Code expressly states that the only instances where the Local Assessor could validly make an assessment or reassessment of real property are as follows: where (1) real property is declared for taxation purposes for the first time; (2) there is an on-going general revision o property classification and assessment; (3) request is made by a declared claimant of a property; and (4) in case improvements had been introduced or there has been change in the classification or use of the property;

3. that Appellant was not served with a Notice of Assessment as required under Section 223 of the Local Government Code; that it was only on January 28, 2004 when Appellant received copies of the revised Declarations of Real Property together with unsigned copies of Real Property Tax Order of Payment. Evidently, these are not the notice of assessment that is mandated by law to be served to the declared owner of the property.

Appellant prayed that the assailed LBAA Resolution dated 7 March 2005 be reversed and the questioned assessments be declared null and void and of no force and effect.

Respondent City Assessor of Parañaque, through the Province’s Legal Office, filed her Memorandum dated July 26, 2012 by registered mail on July 31, 2012 and received by this Board on August 13, 2012.

In said Memorandum, Respondent-Appellee City Assessor presented the following:

“ARGUMENTS/DISCUSSIONS
“Respondent-Appellee (sic) LBAA is Correct in Dismissing the Appeal

“I. Petitioner-Appellants Appeal to LBAA is Anchored on the Validity or Constitutionality of Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003.”

Respondent did not elaborate on why the LBAA was correct in dismissing the Appeal, except to keep on repeating that the appeal was anchored on the validity or constitutionality of Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003. The truth of the matter, however, is that the LBAA disclaimed jurisdiction over the Appeal because the LBAA considered Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003, as a “tax ordinance” and/or “revenue measure” and that the “validity or constitutionality” of said ordinance had to be ventilated before the Secretary of Justice and, if necessary, before a court of competent jurisdiction as provided under Article 275 of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Local Government Code of 1991.

“II. Petitioner-Appellant’s Argument that Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003 is not a Tax Ordinance is Bereft of Merit.

“III. Respondent-Appellee City Assessor merely comply (sic) with the directive and mandate of Section III of Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003 enacted by the Local Legislative Body of Parañaque City.”

Respondent City Assessor argues that she “cannot be faulted for following or complying with the directive and mandate of a valid and existing law or ordinance.”

“IV. Parañaque City Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003 is a Valid and Existing Law and Enjoys the Presumption of Validity.

“V. The Court of Competent Jurisdiction has jurisdiction concerning ISSUE on the Validity or Constitutionality of a law or ordinance like herein Parañaque City Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003 and NOT the respondent-appellee (sic) LBAA.”

Respondent City Assessor states that the “LBAA cannot assume jurisdiction regarding an issue on the validity of the acts of respondent-appellee City Assessor in complying with existing and valid Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003 without encroaching the jurisdiction of a Court of competent jurisdiction or committing grave abuse of discretion, which is tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”

Appellant filed its Position Paper dated August 2, 2012 by registered mail on that day. Said document reached this Board on August 15, 2012.

Said Memorandum is a virtual reproduction ofthe Appellant’s Appeal dated April 29, 2005 and filed with this Board on May 3, 2005.

CBAA’S FINDINGS/RULING

The real issues in this case are:

A. WHETHER OR NOT THE LBAA ACTED CORRECTLY IN DISMISSING THE APPEAL FOR WANT OF JURISDICTION; AND

B. WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT CITY ASSESSOR HAD THE AUTHORITY TO REVISE THE 2003 ASSESSMENTS OF SUBJECT PROPERTIES.

In its Resolution dated 7 March 2005, the LBAA stated, thus:

“The issues raised by the Appellant boils (sic) down to the constitutionality of City Ordinance No. 03-06, which is outside the jurisdiction of this Board.

“Article 275 of the Rules and Regulations Implementing The Local Government Code of 1991 provides as follows:

‘Article 275.PROCEDURE FOR APPROVAL AND EFFECTIVITY OF TAX ORDINANCE AND REVENUE MEASURES.

‘The procedures for approval of local tax ordinances and revenue measures shall be in accordance with the provision (sic) of this Rule provided that public hearings shall be conducted for the purpose prior to the enactment thereof provided further that any question on the constitutionality or legality of tax ordinances or revenue measures may be raised on appeal within thirty (30) days from the effectivity thereof to the Secretary of Justice who shall render a decision within sixty (60) days from the date of receipt of the appeal provided furthermore that such appeal shall not have the effect of suspending the effectivity of the ordinance and the accrual and payment of the tax, fee or charged (sic) levied therein and provided finally that within thirty (30) days after receipt of the decision or the lapse of the sixty-day period without the Secretary of Justice acting upon the appeal, the aggrieved party may file appropriate procedures with a court of competent jurisdiction . . . . . . . . . . .’

“Therefore, since the issues raised by Appellant are anchored as to whether or not Parañaque City Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003 is valid and/ or (sic) constitutional, settlement of such question must be resolved in the proper forum, which will in turn answer all attendant questions.”

Article 275 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Local Government Code of 1991 (the “LGC”), quoted above, is a virtual reproduction of Section 187 of the LGC, which said Article 275 is “implementing”. In fact, Article 275 of the IRR and Section 187 of the LGC have identical subtitles.

The quotations/discussions made on Article 275 of the IRR by both the LBAA and Respondent City Assessor are good, if only this case involved some local tax, fee or charge governed by the LGC provisions under Title One, Book II, of the Code. It is, however, unfortunate that this case involves real property taxation which is governed by the provisions of the Code under Title Two, Book II, thereof.

Section 187 of the LGC provides the “Procedure for Approval and Effectivity of Tax Ordinances and Revenue Measures” involving Local Government Taxation (local taxes, fees or charges). It has nothing to do with Real Property Taxation.

Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003 of Parañaque City is an ordinance enacted under the provisions of Section 385 of the LGC on the “creation, division and/or abolition of a barangay or the substantial alteration of its boundaries”. Said ordinance is not a tax ordinance nor a revenue-raising measure. The exercise by local government units of their taxing and other revenue-raising powers is provided for under Section 128 under Title One of Book II of the LGC.

Assuming, arguendo, that the Local Board of Assessment Appeals of Parañaque City was correct in disclaiming jurisdiction over the issue of whether or not Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003, is constitutional or valid, certainly, it has jurisdiction over the acts or, more appropriately, the consequencies of the acts performed by Respondent City Assessor pursuant to said ordinance, insofar as such acts, or the results thereof, affect real property taxation.

Section 220 of the Code, as implemented by Article 311 of the IRR, enumerates the only instances where an assessor may make a classification, appraisal or assessment of real property under his jurisdiction, thus:

“SEC. 220. Valuation of Real Property. – In cases where (a) real property is declared and listed for taxation purposes for the first time; (b) there is an ongoing general revision of property classification and assessment; or (c) a request is made by the person in whose name the property is declared, the provincial, city or municipal assessor or his duly authorized deputy shall, in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter, make a classification, appraisal and assessment of the real property listed and described in the declaration irrespective of any previous assessment or taxpayer’s valuation thereon: Provided, however, That the assessment of real property shall not be increased oftener than once every three (3) years except in case of new improvements substantially increasing the value of said property or of any change in its actual use.” (Emphasis supplied)

Reassessing subject properties, purportedly pursuant to the provisions of Parañaque City’s Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003, does not fall under any of the instances enumerated under Section 220 of the LGC.

Section III of said Ord. 03-06 directed the Office of the City Assessor to implement Section I and Section II of the same ordinance, thus:

“SECTION I. The territorial boundaries of the different barangays in the reclaimed areas in Manila Bay shall be determined by using the straight line method.

“SECTION II. In the adoption of the straight line policy, boundaries should be set along easily identified existing natural or man made land divisions (river courses, road ways, etc.) and should coincide with property lines.

“SECTION III. The Office of the City Assessor is hereby directed to implement the provision of this ordinance.”

Without touching on the constitutionality or validity of said Ordinance No. 03-06, we find nothing therein which remotely authorized Respondent City Assessor to make the questioned reassessments. Respondent’s authority to relocate the boundaries between Bgys. Tambo and Baclaran using the “straight line policy” do not automatically carry with it the authority to make the questioned reassessments.

Copies of the Real Property Tax Order of Payment for the questioned reassessments were stamped with the phrase “CHANGE OF BARANGAY LOCATION IN COMPLIANCE WITH PARAÑAQUE CITY ORDINANCE 03-06 SERIES OF 2003”. Unmistakably, this phrase means that the “reassessment is made due to the change of the name of the barangay where the subject property is located”.

The name of the location of subject properties was changed, but not the location itself. We are certain that the technical descriptions (the degrees of deviations, the minutes and distances between points) of the subject parcels of land remain the same even after the respondent reassessed the same lots.

A real property’s value does not automatically appreciate with the change of the name of the place where said real property is situated.

Respondent City Assessor inferred, wrongfully, that she had the requisite authority from Ordinance 03-96, Series of 2003. This ordinance, if it is really a tax ordinance, should be construed strictly against the local government unit enacting it, and liberally in favour of the taxpayer. Thus, Section 5(b) of the LGC provides as follows:

“SEC. 5. Rules of Interpretation.–In the interpretation of the provisions of this Code, the following rules shall apply:

“x x x

“(b) In case of doubt, any tax ordinance or revenue measure shall be construed strictly against the local government unit enacting it, and liberally in favor of the taxpayer. x xx”

In view of all the foregoing, We believe, and so hold, that the assessments made by Respondent City Assessor of Parañaque on the subject properties of Petitioner-Appellant, purportedly pursuant to the provisions of Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003, of Parañaque City, are null and void for lack of legal basis.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Resolution of the Local Board of Assessment Appeals of Parañaque City dated 07 March 2005 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and Tax Declaration Nos. E-002-07527, E-002-07555, E-002-07556, E-002-O7557, E-002-07558 and E-002-07559 issued by Respondent City Assessor for Petitioner-Appellant’s properties pursuant to Parañaque City Ordinance No. 03-06, Series of 2003, are hereby DECLARED NULL and VOID ab initio. Consequently, the realty taxes due on subject properties should be based on the assessments prevailing as of the year 2003, unless and until legally revised, and any amount paid by petitioner-appellant in excess thereof shall be credited in favor of petitioner against any unpaid present or future taxes due on the same properties.

SO ORDERED.

Manila, Philippines, October 11, 2012.

SIGNED
OFELIA A. MARQUEZ
Chairman

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