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

NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION,
Petitioner-Appellant,
CBAA CASE NO. L-84
-versus- (LBAA Case No. 1-07)
Province of Ifugao
THE LOCAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS OF THE PROVINCE OF THE PROVINCE OF IFUGAO,
Appellee,

-and-

THE PROVINCE OF IFUGAO AND THE PROVINCIAL ASSESSOR OF IFUGAO,
Respondents-Appellees.
x————————————————x

D E C I S I O N

This appeal, received by this Board on September 13, 2007, is from the Resolution dated April 16, 2007 and the subsequent Order dated August 2, 2007, both of the Local Board of Assessment Appeals for the Province of Ifugao.

Petitioner-Appellant National Power Corporation (NPC for brevity) is a government-owned and –controlled corporation duly organized and existing under and by virtue of Republic Act No. 6395, otherwise known as the “NPC Charter”. NPC is the owner of the Magat River Hydroelectric Power Plant (MRHPP) at Sto. Domingo, Alfonso Lista, Ifugao where the subject building (power house) is located.
On December 4, 2002, Respondent-Appellee Provincial Assessor of Ifugao issued Real Property Field Appraisal Assessment Sheet – Building (ARP No. 1999-03020-00216) covering the said power house.

On December 27, 2002, the Provincial Assessor and Provincial Treasurer of Ifugao jointly issued a “notice” informing NPC, c/o Melvin R. Eugenio, Administrator, of the realty taxes on the building embraced by ARP No. 1999-03020-00216.

In a letter dated May 9, 2003 and addressed to the Governor of Ifugao, “Attn.: The Provincial Assessor/Treasurer”, Melvin R. Eugenio, CESO V, as Plant Manager of the Magat River Hydroelectric Power Plant, stated that “This has reference to your notice regarding the assessment of the Real Property Tax for structures/improvements of the Magat River Hydroelectric Plant located at Alfonso Lista, Ifugao which was received by our office for payment.” Said letter ended with a request that the subject assessment be recomputed for the reason that NPC, being a government-owned or controlled corporation, is exempted from payment of real property tax by virtue of Section 234(c) of R.A. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991.

The Provincial Governor of Ifugao, in a letter dated July 1, 2003 addressed to Mr. Melvyn R. Eugenio, CESO V, denied the latter’s request for exemption for the reason that the subject building “does not fall under those real properties exempted.”

Petitioner-Appellant received on October 26, 2006 (not December 29, 2006 as alleged by Petitioner) a letter dated October 6, 2006 from the Office of Provincial Treasurer of Ifugao demanding that NPC settle its real property tax obligation for the years 1993 to 2006 in the total amount of P7,450,935.38. Attached to the Provincial Treasurer’s letter were (a) Real Property Field Appraisal Assessment Sheet – Building (ARP No. 1999-03020-00216) and (b) Computation of Tax Due and Assessed Value.

On January 26, 2007, the Local Board of Assessment Appeals of Ifugao (henceforth, “the Local Board”) received NPC’s Petition dated January 14, 2006 (should be January 14, 2007) entitled IN RE: PETITION FOR EXEMPTION FROM REAL PROPERTY TAX OF THE MACHINERIES AND EQUIPMENT OF THE MAGAT RIVER HYDROELECTRIC POWER PLANT” claiming that the property subject of ARP No. 1999-03020-00216 is exempt from payment of the real property tax by virtue of Section 234(c) of R.A.7160.

On April 16, 2007, the Local Board issued a Resolution, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
“Under Section 226, Chapter 3, of R.A. 7160, otherwise known as the 1991 Local Government Code its is provided.

‘Section 226. 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 Local Board of Assessment Appeals of the province or city by filing under oath in the form prescribed for this purpose, together with copies of the tax declarations and such affidavits or documents submitted in support of the appeal.’

“It is very clear that notwithstanding the receipt by the petitioner of the notice of assessment and the series of letters sent by the Provincial Treasurer of Ifugao demanding payment by the former of their real property tax obligation, the petitioner failed to file its appeal to this Board within the period provided for by the above cited provision of law. Neither did the petitioner observe the procedure of Payment Under Protest embodied in Section 252 of R.A. 7160, otherwise known as the 1991 Local Government Code.

“WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby dismissed for having been filed beyond the period of sixty (60) days as provided for by law.”

Alleging that it received on May 8, 2007 a copy of the Local Board’s Resolution of April 16, 2007, NPC filed its Motion for Reconsideration with the Local Board on June 22, 2007 arguing: (1) that the filing of the instant appeal on January 26, 2007 was clearly within sixty (60) days from December 29, 2006, the date when NPC received the October 6, 2006 letter from the Office of the Provincial Treasurer of Ifugao; (2) that, assuming without necessarily admitting that the instant appeal was filed beyond the sixty-day period as provided for under Section 226 Chapter 3 of R.A. 7160, it cannot be denied that the properties sought to be taxed by the Province of Ifugao are clearly EXEMPT from real property tax. Petitioner then humbly submits that tax assessments made by the Province of Ifugao are clearly void ab initio and can not attain finality; (3) that in the “Real Property Taxation” annotated by Atty. Florecita P. Flores and Antonio A. Avila, Jr., 2002, First Edition, page 402, it quotes: “It must be noted however that, the protest contemplated under Section 252 of Republic Act 7160 is needed where there is a question as to the reasonableness of the amount assessed, not where the question raised is on the very authority and power of the assessor to impose the assessment and of the treasurer to collect the tax (Ty vs. Trampe, 250 SCRA 500); and (4) Petitioner, through the instant case, would like to avail of the unambiguous provisions of Section 206 of R.A. 7160 which allow a taxpayer to prove that his property is tax exempt and allowing it to be dropped from the assessment roll even though the claim for tax exemption was filed beyond the required period.
On August 2, 2007, the Local Board issued an Order dismissing Petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration dated June 4, 2007, the salient features of which Order read as follows:
“Under the said Motion for Reconsideration, petitioner is contending that the appeal was filed on time. In support of such contention, petitioner alleged that the October 6, 2006 letter from the Province of Ifugao was received by the petitioner on October 29, 2006 and accordingly it filed its appeal on January 14, 2007 which appeal was received by the Board on January 26, 2007. Hence, the appeal was filed within sixty (60) days from December 29, 2006.

“The said contention cannot be given due course considering that under Section 226, Chapter 3 of R.A. 7160, otherwise known as the ‘Local Government Code of 1991’, it is well settled that the sixty (60) day period is reckoned from the date of the receipt of the written notice of assessment.

“A careful review of the facts on record would show that the appeal was filed out of time. The assessment of the Province of Ifugao as shown by the Real Property Field Appraisal Assessment Sheet (ARP No. 1999-03020-00216) was acknowledged by the petitioner to have been received in its letter dated May 9, 2003 addressed to the Provincial Governor. In fact, petitioner even requested that the subject assessment be recomputed.

“The October 6, 2006 letter from the Provincial Treasurer of Ifugao which petitioner received on October 29, 2006 cannot be considered as a notice of assessment but rather a follow-up letter merely reiterating the demand for payment by petitioner of its real property tax obligation to the province. Clearly, petitioner’s failure to appeal in due time, as in the case at bar, makes the assessment in question final and demandable.

“Nevertheless, even granting for the sake of argument that the appeal was filed on time, still, on the merits the Petition is bound to fail.

“Petitioner is of the opinion that the properties sought to be taxed by the Province of Ifugao are equipment and/or machineries essential in the operation of the petitioner’s Magat River Hydroelectric Power Plant and consequently exempt from real property tax pursuant to Section 234(c), Chapter 4 of the R.A. No. 7160, otherwise known as ‘The Local Government Code of 1991’.

“This Board believes otherwise. A perusal of the Real Property Field Appraisal Assessment Sheet (ARP No. 1999-03020-00216) declared in the name of the petitioner would readily show that indeed what was assessed by the Province of Ifugao was only the building (Power house) and not the machineries and equipment owned by the petitioner.

“Thus, while machineries and equipment that are actually, directly and exclusively used by the petitioner in the generation and transmission of electric power are exempt from real property tax under section 234 (c) Chapter 4 of R.A. 7160, the building (power house) as assessed by the Province of Ifugao can not by any stretch of imagination be considered as machinery under item (o) Section 199, Chapter 1 of R.A. 7160. The coverage of machinery should not be enlarged as to include the building (power house) which is indubitably a taxable realty.

“There being no substantial arguments raised to warrant the reversal of the ruling in the questioned Resolution dated April 16, 2007, this Board hereby resolves to deny the said motion for lack of merit.”

Hence, this appeal.

Alleging that it received a copy of the Local Board’s April 16, 2007 Resolution on May 8, 2007 and a copy of the Local Board’s August 2, 2007 Order on August 23, 2007, Petitioner assigned the following errors or issues, to wit:
a. Whether or not the proceedings before the LBAA of Ifugao are null and void?

b. Whether or not the building (power house) of MRHPP is exempt from realty tax?

On the first issue, Petitioner, citing the provisions of Section 229 of R.A. 7160, argues that:
“1. It must be stressed that the Honorable LBAA of Ifugao fatally erred in not conducting hearing. Worse, it did not even require respondents to file pleading, not even a manifestation, relative to the petition. When petitioner-appellant filed is June 4, 2007 Motion for Reconsideration, the LBAA of Ifugao did not even bother to set it for hearing knowing very well that the same is a litigated motion; and

“2. Such inadvertence totally disregarded Section 229, Chapter 4 of R.A. 7160 (Local Government Code) making the proceedings before the LBAA of Ifugao procedurally flawed. Necessarily, any decision rendered by the LBAA of Ifugao is null and void for being violative of the basic tenets of substantive and procedural due process as guaranteed and enshrined in the Constitution.

On the second issue, petitioner-appellant argues that:
“1. Considering that petitioner-appellant is a government owned and controlled corporation primarily engaged in the generation and sell (sic) of electric power, the building (power house) that is subject of the aforementioned Real Property Field Appraisal Assessment Sheet (ARP No. 1999-03020-00216) is EXEMPT pursuant to Section 234(c), Chapter 4 of the Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7160, otherwise known as ‘The Local Government Code of 1991’, which provides that:

“Section 234 – Exemption from Real Property Tax. – The following are exempted from the payment of the real property tax:

(c) All machineries and equipment that are actually, directly and exclusively used by local water districts and government-owned or –controlled corporations engaged in the supply and distribution of water and/or generation and transmission of electric power; xxx” (emphasis ours)

“2. Item (o), Section 199, Chapter 1 of the same Code, broadly defines ‘Machinery” as:

Section 199. – Definitions. – When used in this Title:

xxx

“(o) “Machinery” embraces machines, equipment, mechanical contrivances, instruments, appliances or apparatus which may or may not be attached, permanently or temporarily, to the real property. It includes the physical facilities for production, the installations and appurtenant service, facilities, those which are mobile, self-powered or self-propelled, x x x.” (emphasis ours)

“3. Respondents-Appellees could hardly accept the very broad scope of the word ‘machinery’ as defined by the Local Government Code itself. Clearly, it includes the ‘physical facilities for the production, the installations and appurtenant service, facilities’, whether permanently or temporarily attached to the ground.

“4. For all intents and purposes, the MRHPP’s powerhouse can not be equated to a residential house or even a commercial building. The subject mammoth concrete powerhouse does not merely house and enclose the electro-mechanical components of MRHPP but it is so designed and installed, among others, to withstand water pressure, absorb vibrations, maintains alignment and ensure unhampered operation of the turbine, generator, governor, shaftings and the power plant as a whole. The powerhouse is undisputedly a physical facility for the production and/or generation of electricity. Without which, the MRHPP can not generate a single watt of electricity!”

In their Answer dated October 4, 2007 (which reached this Board on October 23, 2007), Respondents-Appellees, through the Provincial Legal Office of Ifugao, stated pretty much the same facts as contained in the early part of this Decision.

Anent the first issue presented by petitioner, Respondents-Appellees said that:
“Certainly, the Local Board of Assessment Appeals of the Province of Ifugao has the power to motu propio determine the timeliness of the petition filed before it. And the determination of whether the petition was filed on time would not necessarily call for a formal hearing as the same could be ruled upon on the basis of the documents available on record. In determining the timeliness of the petition, the Local Board of Assessment Appeals of the Province of Ifugao could rely on the documentary evidence on record. Indeed, the Local Board of Assessment Appeals had based their Resolution on the undisputable evidence on record showing that the Petition filed with the LBAA of the Province of Ifugao was truly filed out of time. . . It is our humble submission that the ‘hearing’ mentioned by the law is one which goes into the merits of the case. Consequently, the Resolution of the Local Board of Assessment Appeals dismissing the petition of the National Power Corporation for having been filed out of time based on the immutable documents on records would not result to a violation of the right to due process as vigorously argued by petitioner-appellant National Power Corporation.”

On the second issue, Respondents-Appellees adopted the ruling of the Local Board that “the coverage of machinery should not be enlarged as to include the building (power house) which is indubitably a taxable realty.”

Petitioner’s Position Paper, dated April 17, 2008 and received by this Board on April 29, 2008, virtually reiterated NPC’s arguments contained in its Petition. As an additional argument, however, NPC cited the CBAA’s decision in National Power Corporation vs. Local Board of Assessment Appeals of Pampanga and Provincial Assessor of Pampanga, et al. (CBAA Case No. L-36, July 15, 2005) where this Board ruled that NPC’s “Power Station Building” and “Office Building and Control House” were exempt from payment of the real property tax.

Respondents-Appellees’ Position Paper, dated April 25, 2008 and received by this Board on May 6, 2008, also contains the same facts and arguments raised in their Answer dated October 4, 2007. In addition, however, Respondents-Appellees raised the issue of wrong venue, thus:
“The 1991 Local Government Code specifically directs that any claim for tax exemption should be filed with the provincial, city or municipal assessor.

‘Proof of Exemption of Real Property from Taxation. Every person by or for whom real property is declared, who shall claim tax exemption for such property under this Title shall file with the provincial, city or municipal assessor within thirty (30) days from the date of declaration of real property sufficient documentary evidence in support of such claim.’

“No claim for tax exemption was ever filed by herein petitioner-appellant with the Office of the Provincial Assessor up to today. Petitioner-appellant’s failure to file a claim of tax exemption mutely but eloquently shows the admission by petitioner-appellant that the subject property (power house) is taxable.

“As the law mandates that a claim for tax exemption could only be file with the Provincial Assessor, the instant Petition for Tax Exemption is clearly filed at the wrong venue.”

On September 11, 2008, this Board received Respondents-Appellees’ Supplemental Position Paper dated September 9, 2008. In this pleading, Respondents-Appellees argue that NPC’s appeal should not be entertained for non-payment of realty taxes as provided by Section 252 of R.A. 7160.

In NPC’s Comments to Respondents-Appellees’ Supplemental Position Paper, dated September 22, 2008 and received by this Board on September 30, 2008, Petitioner-Appellant counters that:
“With all due respect, Respondents-Appellees fatally misinterpreted the application of the aforementioned provision of law. Payment of the tax under protest contemplated under Sec. 252 of R.A. 7160 is necessary where the question is the reasonableness of the amount assessed. Hence, if a taxpayer disputes the reasonableness of the increase in a real estate tax assessment, he is required to ‘first pay the Tax’ under protest. However, where the petitioners are questioning the very authority and power of the assessor to impose the assessment, and of the treasurer to collect the tax, these are not questions of merely amounts of the increase in the tax but attacks in the very validity of any increase (Philippine Law on Local Government Taxation by Sofronio B. Ursal, 2000 Edition, Pages 368-369, citing Alejandro B. Ty and MVR Picture Tube, Inc. vs. Aurelio C. Trampe, Secretary of Finance, Municipal Assessor of Pasig and the Municipal Treasurer of Pasig, G.R. No. 117577 promulgated December 1, 1995)
Sorting out the records in this case, we can summarize the various issues in the instant Appeal as follows:
1. Whether or not Petitioner-Appellant should first pay, under protest, the realty tax as assessed by the assessor before filing the Appeal;

2. Whether or not NPC’s “Petition for Exemption from Real Property Tax” filed with the Local Board is an Appeal filed on time;

3. Whether or not NPC’s “Petition for Exemption from Real Property Tax” filed with the Local Board is a “Claim for Tax Exemption” filed in the wrong venue;

4. Whether or not the proceedings before the LBAA of Ifugao were null and void; and

5. Whether or not the building (power house) of MRHPP is exempt from realty tax.

I

WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONER-APPELLANT SHOULD FIRST PAY, UNDER PROTEST, THE REALTY TAX AS ASSESSED BY THE ASSESSOR BEFORE FILING THE APPEAL.

In its Order of April 16, 2007, the Local Board stated that “Neither did the petitioner observe the procedure of Payment Under Protest embodied in Section 252 of R.A. 7160. . .”

Section 252 of R.A. 7160 provides, thus:

“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 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 favor of the taxpayer, the amount or portion 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 Two, Book II of this Code.
The Local Board should not have been concerned with the provisions of Section 252 of R.A. 7160. Under paragraph (a) above-quoted, it is the treasurer concerned – not the Local Board – who is prohibited from entertaining a taxpayer’s protest unless the latter first pays the tax under protest. Under said Section 252 of R.A. 7160, a taxpayer must first pay, under protest, the tax involved before filing with the treasurer concerned a claim for refund or tax credit thereof. It is only when his claim for refund or tax credit is denied by the treasurer concerned that the taxpayer may appeal such denial to the Local Board.

Anyway, the provisions of Section 252 of the Code would only apply in a case where the taxpayer believes that the assessment made by the assessor is satisfactory or correct, but that the treasurer’s computation of the tax thereon is erroneous. Otherwise, if the assessment made by the assessor is illegal or otherwise incorrect, the taxpayer’s recourse would be to file an appeal with the Local Board versus the assessor – not the treasurer – as respondent. Non-compliance by Petitioner with the requirement of Section 252 (a) of R.A. 7160 is not a valid issue in this case.

II

WHETHER OR NOT NPC’S “PETITION FOR EXEMPTION FROM REAL PROPERTY TAX” FILED WITH THE LOCAL BOARD IS AN APPEAL FILED ON TIME

NPC’s “Petition for Exemption from Real Property Tax” is an aftermath of the Provincial Treasurer’s collection letter of October 6, 2006. More precisely, the petition was directed against the ARP No. 1999-03020-00216 attached to said letter. The Provincial Assessor issued ARP No. 1999-03020-00216 for NPC’s power house at Magat River Hydroelectric Power Plant. Therefore, the petition could be considered an appeal subject to the provisions of Section 226 of R.A. 7160, which provides thus:
“Sec. 226. 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.” (Emphasis supplied)

In its Motion for Reconsideration dated June 4, 2007, Petitioner argued that it received the October 6, 2006 letter from the Province (Provincial Treasurer) of Ifugao only on December 29, 2006 and that, since its “Petition for Exemption from Real Property Tax” dated January 14, 2006 (should be January 14, 2007) reached the Local Board of Assessment Appeals of Ifugao on January 26, 2007, “clearly, the instant appeal was filed within sixty (60) days from December 29, 2006.”

The records show that a machine copy of the October 6, 2006 letter from the Office of the Provincial Treasurer, Province of Ifugao, bear the stamp mark that a copy of said letter was received for MRHPP on October 26, 2006, not December 29, 2006 as alleged by NPC. Anyway, it does not matter when NPC received that October 6, 2006 letter from the Treasurer since the “written notice of assessment” contemplated under Section 226 of R.A. 7160 is the written notice of assessment issued by the Office of the Provincial Assessor – not the collection letter from the Provincial Treasurer.

The written notice of assessment in this case was issued by Office of the Provincial Assessor on December 27, 2002, inviting the National Power Corporation to “Kindly inform the Assessor’s Office of any error or omission that (you) may have discovered in this notice.”

There is no proof when NPC actually received said written notice. However, in a letter dated May 9, 2003 and addressed to the Governor of Ifugao, (Attn.: The Provincial Assessor/Treasurer), Melvin R. Eugenio, CESO V, as Plant Manager of the MRHPP, NPC acknowledged such receipt by stating that “This has reference to your notice regarding the assessment of the Real Property Tax for structures/improvements of the Magat River Hydroelectric Plant located at Alfonso Lista, Ifugao which was received by our office for payment.” Even granting, for purposes of discussion, that the written notice of assessment was received by NPC as late as May 9, 2003, the day its MRHPP Manager wrote that letter to the Governor of Ifugao, still January 26, 2007 (the dated NPC’s Petition reached the Local Board) is more than sixty (60) days from May 3, 2003.

We agree, therefore, with the Local Board that NPC’s petition was filed beyond the sixty-day period prescribed under Section 226 of R.A. 7160.

The 60-day period for appeals under Section 226 is mandatory and jurisdictional. (See G.R. No. L-12104, Garganta, et al. vs. Court of Appeals as cited in Filipino Telephone Corporation vs. BAA and City Assessor of Baguio, CBAA Case No. 254, December 27, 1990, the subject in this case being Sec. 30 of P.D. 464, now Sec. 226 of R.A. 7160). The right to appeal is a mere statutory privilege and may be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of law on the matter. We believe, therefore, that Petitioner’s appeal before the Local Board was filed out of time.

III

WHETHER OR NOT NPC’S “PETITION FOR EXEMPTION FROM REAL PROPERTY TAX” FILED WITH THE LOCAL BOARD IS A “CLAIM FOR TAX EXEMPTION” FILED IN THE WRONG VENUE.

Petitioner-Appellant, in No. 9 of its Motion for Reconsideration dated June 4, 2007 filed with the Local Board, stated thus:
“9. Petitioner, through the instant case, would like to avail of the unambiguous provisions of Section 206, Chapter II of R.A. 7160, which allow a taxpayer to prove that his property is tax exempt and allowing it to be dropped from the assessment roll even though the claim for tax exemption was filed beyond the required period.”

The procedure in claiming exemption from real property tax is laid down under Section 206 of R.A. 7160 which provides, thus:
“SEC. 206. Proof of Exemption of Real Property from Taxation. – Every person by or for whom real property is declared, who shall claim tax exemption for such property under this Title shall file with the provincial, city or municipal assessor within thirty (30) days from the date of the declaration of real property sufficient documentary evidence in support of such claim including corporate charters, title of ownership, articles of incorporation, bylaws, contracts, affidavits, certifications and mortgage deeds, and similar documents.

“If the required evidence is not submitted within the period herein prescribed, the property shall be listed as taxable in the assessment roll. However, if the property shall be proven to be tax exempt, the same shall be dropped from the assessment roll.”

Although the assessor is presumed to have the power to decide whether the documentary evidence submitted is sufficient or not, Section 206 does not provide (1) for the period within which the assessor must make that decision, and (2) for the taxpayer’s remedy if and when the assessor considers the “documentary evidence” insufficient. We believe, however, that the periods prescribed in Sections 252 and 253 of the same Code should, by analogy, be applicable to Section 206. The assessor, therefore, has sixty (60) days from the date of submission of the evidence within which to decide the sufficiency or insufficiency of the same. If the assessor denies the claim, or fails to act on it within said period of sixty (60) days, the taxpayer may appeal such denial to the Local Board. But within what period should the taxpayer appeal the assessor’s denial to the Local Board?

Sections 252 and 253 of the Code provide that “the taxpayer may avail of the remedies as provided for in Chapter 3, Title Two, Book II of this Code “in the event or in case the written claims for refund or credit filed thereunder are denied. Chapter 3, Title Two, Book II of the Code covers appeals to the Local Boards of Assessment Appeals and the Central Board of Assessment Appeals. Chapter 3, Title Two, Book II of the Code starts with Section 226 which provides, thus:
“Sec. 226. 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.” (Emphasis supplied)

Surely, the sixty-day period from the date of receipt of the written notice of assessment provided under Section 226 quoted above should not be applicable to appeals to the Local Board involving the treasurer’s denial of the claims for refund or credit under Sections 252 and 253 of the Code. The treasurer’s denial of the claim for refund or credit under either Section 252 or Section 253 may occur way beyond the sixty-day period after the taxpayer’s “receipt of the written notice of assessment.”

We believe, therefore, that a taxpayer has sixty (60) days from receipt of the treasurer’s denial under Sections 252 and 253 within which to appeal to the Local Board such denial. We also believe that a taxpayer, whose claim for tax exemption under Section 206 has been denied by the assessor concerned, should have sixty (60) days from receipt of such denial within which to appeal to the Local Board.

As implied under the last sentence of the second paragraph of Section 206 above-quoted, a taxpayer may file, even beyond the thirty-day prescriptive period, with the assessor concerned a claim fro tax exemption for his property, as long as he has the evidence to support such claim. However, the subject property shall continue to be taxable until the assessor concerned, on his own initiative or upon order of a higher and competent authority in appropriate cases, shall have declared the same property as tax-exempt.

We agree, therefore, with the Respondents-Appellees that NPC’s “Petition for Exemption from Real Property Tax” was filed in the wrong venue.

IV

WHETHER OR NOT THE PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE LBAA OF IFUGAO WERE NULL AND VOID.

As correctly pointed out by Respondents-Appellees, the Local Board certainly has the power to motu propio determine the timeliness of the petition filed before it. The determination of whether the petition was filed on time would not necessarily call for a formal hearing as the same could be ruled upon on the basis of the documents available on record. A simple comparison of the actual date of filing of the petition with the cut-off date prescribed by the law would suffice. Therefore, we believe that the Local Board acted within the law when it dismissed Petitioner’s appeal.

In view of the foregoing, we believe we are barred from discussing the fifth and last issue.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, Petitioner-Appellant’s instant appeal is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

Manila, Philippines, April 24, 2012.

SIGNED
OFELIA A. MARQUEZ
Chairman

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

I concur in the conclusions only as they are technically correct. However, the interpretation herein has incompletely considered the substance of the law. The indisputable fact is that the property is the powerhouse of the power plant and by definition of Section 199 (o), covered by the exemption found under Section 234(c)