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

VISAYAN ELECTRIC COMPANY, INC. (VECO),
Petitioner-Appellant,
CBAA CASE NO. V-22 – versus –

THE CITY ASSESSOR OF TALISAY CITY, Respondent- Appellee

– and –

THE LOCAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS OF TALISAY CITY,
Appellees,
x———————————————————–x

R E S O L U T I O N

Before us is an Appeal filed on 4 May 2005 by the Visayan Electric

Company, Inc., Inc. (VECO) from a Decision supposedly rendered by the Local

Board of Assessment Appeals of Talisay City (the “Local Board”).

The basis of VECO’s appeal is a letter (Annex “A” to the Appeal) dated

April 4, 2005, from the City Legal Officer of Talisay City, Atty. Aurora Econg, to

VECO, informing the latter “that it is the decision of the Local Board of

Assessment Appeals of Talisay City that VECO should pay its more than P16M

accountability to the said LGU.” No copy of the decision adverted to by Atty.

Econg was attached to, or enclosed with, her said letter.

This Board, through its Hearing Officer for Visayas, Atty. Camilo L.

Montenegro, in a communication under the date of May 17, 2005, requested the

Registrar of Deeds for Talisay City to transmit the complete original records of

the LBAA case to the CBAA Visayas Field Office pursuant to the provisions of

Section 5, Rule IV of the Rules of Procedure Before the Central Board of

Assessment Appeals.

Reference: Book XIII, pp. 47-53

On the same day, in accordance with the provisions of Section 4, Rule IV

of the said Rules of Procedure, the Hearing Officer for Visayas requested the

City Assessor of Talisay City to submit her answer or comment to the appeal.

On May 30, 2005, the City Legal Officer of Talisay City, on behalf of

Respondents-Appellees, filed with the CBAA-Visayas a Memorandum of Appeal

wherein she stated that “Talisay City being a fledgling city does not have yet a

Register of Deeds. RA 7160 provides that in the absence of a Register of Deeds,

the City Prosecutor can take its place. It has only an OIC Prosecutor . . . The

Chairman of the Board is the City Engineer and the Secretary appointed by the

Chairman is the City Legal Officer. . .”

The said Memorandum on Appeal does not disclose the date and place of

its preparation. Attached thereto, among others, are the following:

1. A “Verification/Certification” purportedly signed, subscribed and

sworn to by Mayor Socrates C. Fernandez of Talisay City on May 30, 2005 but

without the name, signature and other circumstances of the official administering

oath;

2. An undated “Appointment” (as Annex “G”) purportedly appointing the

City Legal Officer/City Administrator of Talisay City, Atty. Econg, as the Secretary

of the Local Board;

3. An “Oath of Office” purportedly signed, subscribed and sworn to by

Engr. Audie B. Bacasmas on April 1, 2005, in his capacity as Chairman of the

Local Board, but without the name and other circumstances of the official

administering the oath;

4. An unsigned “Oath of Office” purportedly for Atty. Mary Ann Castro,

OIC-City Prosecutor, as member of the Local Board;

5. As Annex “H”, purportedly the “Minutes of the meeting of the Local

Board of Assessment Appeals (LBAA) held on April 4, 2005 at the Office of the

City Legal Officer/City Administrator”, consisting of three (3) pages, “submitted”

by Atty. Aurora A. Econg, City Legal Officer/City Administrator, as Secretary of

Reference: Book XIII, pp. 47-53

the Local Board, and “approved” by Engr. Audie Bacasmas, as Chairman of the

Board.

The City Assessor of Talisay City, sometime on June 3, 2005, came

personally to the Visayas Field Office of this Board to verbally ask for extension

of the time within which to file her answer or comment to VECO’s appeal. She

was surprised to learn that the City Legal Officer of Talisay already filed a

Memorandum of Appeal on her (the City Assessor’s) behalf. Anyway, the

Hearing Officer granted her request.

Upon the oral confirmation by the City Assessor that, indeed, Talisay City

does not have a Registrar of Deeds and the City Engineer was acting as

Chairman of the Talisay City Local Board, the Hearing Officer decided to send a

written communication, dated June 9, 2005, requesting the City Engineer of

Talisay City to transmit the records of the case to the CBAA Visayas Field Office.

On July 1, 2005, the Local Board of Talisay City filed with the Visayas Field

Office of this Board the following documents, to wit:

1. A one-page supposed “decision” of the Local Board of Assessment

Appeals of Talisay City dated April 4, 2005;

2. A copy of the City Assessor’s “Reply on Notice of Appeal and

Memorandum of Appeal” dated February 10, 2004, with Annexes “A” to “D-4”;

3. A machine copy of VECO’s appeal before the Local Board of

Assessment Appeals of Talisay City dated December 23, 2003; and

4. A machine copy of the Notice of Appeal and Memorandum of Appeal

filed by VECO with the Local Board.

The supposed “decision” mentioned in No. 1, above, is purportedly signed

by City Engineer Audie B. Bacasmas as Chairman of the Local Board and by an

unknown person supposedly for and on behalf of Atty. Mary Ann Castro, OIC-

City Prosecutor, as Member of the Local Board.

Reference: Book XIII, pp. 47-53

The “Reply” of the City Assessor, which was supposed to have been filed

with the Local Board, does not show that the same “Reply” was indeed filed with

the Local Board and there is no proof of service of a copy thereof to VECO.

In its appeal, VECO stated the first assigned error thus:

THE SUPPOSED DECISION OF THE LOCAL BOARD CONTAINED IN THE LETTER-DECISION IS NULL AND VOID BECAUSE IT WAS NOT RENDERED BY A COLLEGIAL LOCAL BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS, BUT BY A SINGULAR OFFICIAL OF TALISAY CITY. MOREOVER, VECO WAS DENIED ITS RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS BECAUSE NO HEARING WAS EVER CONDUCTED WHERE APPELLANT CAN PRESENT EVIDENCE.

In her “Memorandum of Appeal” filed on May 30, 2005 on behalf of

Respondent-Appllee, the Talisay City Legal Officer stated, as title to the

discussion of the first issue above-stated, that “The Decision On VECO’s appeal

is Not Singular. The City Legal Officer As Secretary Appointed By The

Assessment Board Was Commissioned To Inform VECO On The Board’s

Decision VECO Was Not Denied Due Process Of Law.” Then she proceeded to

say that “The Decision then which was transmitted to the Petitioner-Appellant

VECO was not a singular action. It was prepared by the City Legal Officer in her

capacity as Secretary to the Local Board of Assessment appointed as provided

under Sec. 227 of RA 7160. Machine copy is hereto attached and marked as

ANNEX “H” to form an integral part thereto.”

The Annex “H” referred to above is the supposed “Minutes” of the meeting

of the Local Board supposedly held on April 4, 2005. It is obvious, therefore, that

the Talisay City Legal Officer thought that her letter of April 4, 2005 which

“transmitted” the “decision” of the Local Board to VECO was sufficient in form

and substance and that a written formal decision by the Local Board was not

necessary.

It is noted that the supposed “meeting” of the Local Board on April 4, 2005,

or the “minutes” thereof, was not mentioned in that letter of April 4, 2005 from the

Talisay City Legal Officer to VECO. We believe, therefore, that both the

supposed “minutes” and the “decision” filed on July 1, 2005 were an afterthought.

The “minutes” were prepared after VECO’s Appeal; and the “decision”, only after

Reference: Book XIII, pp. 47-53

receipt of the Hearing Officer’s June 9, 2005 request for City Engineer of Talisay

City to transmit the records of the LBAA case to the CBAA Visayas Field Ofice.

In any case, neither the Talisay City Legal Officer’s letter of April 4, 2005,

nor the “minutes” of the Local Board’s meeting on April 4, 2005, nor the

“decision” filed on July 1, 2005, satisfies the requirements of Section 227 of the

Local Government Code of 1991, which we quote:

“SEC. 227. Organization, Powers, Duties, and Functions of the Local Board of Assessment Appeals. – (a) The Board of Assessment Appeals of the province or city shall be composed of the Registrar of Deeds, as Chairman, the provincial or city prosecutor and the provincial or city engineer as members, who shall serve as such in an ex officio capacity without additional compensation.

“(b) The Chairman of the Board shall have the power to designate any employee of the province or city to serve as secretary to the Board, also without additional compensation.

“(c) The Chairman and members of the Board of Assessment Appeals of the province or city shall assume their respective positions without need of further appointment or special designation immediately upon effectivity of this Code. They shall take an oath or affirmation of office in the prescribed form.

“(d) In provinces or cities without a provincial or city engineer, the district engineer shall serve as members of the Board. In the absence of the (provincial or city) Registrar of Deeds, or the provincial or city prosecutor, or provincial or city engineer, or the district engineer, the persons performing their duties, whether in an acting capacity or as duly designated officer-in-charge, shall automatically become the chairman or member, respectively, or the said Board, as the case may be.”

The Philippine Legislature clearly envisioned the Local Boards of

Assessment Appeals as collegial bodies. In accordance with the above-quoted

law, the decision, orders, or resolutions of a particular Local Board of

Assessment Appeals, to be valid at least in form, must be signed by at least the

Chairman and member of the said board or, if the Chairman is not available or

does not concur with the majority opinion, by the two (2) members of the said

board. The Chairman and/or members of the Local Board must personally sign

the decision, order, or resolution. No proxies are allowed in the Local Boards of

Assessment Appeals.

As stated in Section 230 of the Code, the Central Board of Assessment

Appeals shall have appellate jurisdiction over all assessment cases decided by

the Local Boards of Assessment Appeals. Section 1, Rule III, of the Rules of

Reference: Book XIII, pp. 47-53

Procedure Before the Central Board of Assessment Appeals, which is self-

explanatory, provides, thus:

“Section 1. – Appellate Jurisdiction. – The Central Board shall have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide all appeals from the decision, orders, and resolutions of the Local Boards involving contested assessments of real properties, claims for tax refund and/or tax credits or overpayments of taxes.”

Even if we consider the “decision” supposedly dated April 4, 2005 but

actually filed on July 1, 2005 – long after the appeal of VECO and the Talisay

City Legal Officer’s Memorandum of Appeal were filed – as rendered in due

course, still, the same “decision” does not meet the requirements of Section 227

of the Code for being signed only by the City Engineer of Talisay.

WHEREFORE, in the absence of a valid decision, order or resolution, this

Board RESOLVED, as it does hereby resolve, to REMAND this case back to the

Local Board of Assessment Appeals for the City of Talisay and to ORDER the

City Engineer of Talisay City, as the Chairman of the said Local Board, to

henceforth convene the said Local Board and, thereafter, to consider the appeal

of the Visayan Electric Company, Inc. (VECO) filed with said Local Board.

SO ORDERED.

Manila, Philippines, July 15, 2005.

(Signed) CESAR S. GUTIERREZ
Chairman

(Signed)
ANGEL P. PALOMARES Member

(Signed) RAFAEL O. CORTES
Member

Reference: Book XIII, pp. 47-53