CA clears Roxas City ex-mayor, 2 others in red tape raps

CA clears Roxas City ex-mayor, 2 others in red tape raps

MANILA – The Court of Appeals (CA) has junked the administrative charges against former Roxas City (Capiz) Mayor Angel Alan Celino and two others for alleged violation of Republic Act 9485 known as The Anti-Red Tape Law.

In a 13-page decision dated July 30 and released on Wednesday, the CA’ Special 12th Division through Associate Justice Marilyn Lagura-Yap dismissed “for lack of merit” the petition filed by the Kapis Development Corporation (KDC) questioning the earlier ruling of the Office of the Ombudsman which cleared Celino, accountant Carmen Andrade and Sherlita Tumlos.

KDC, which runs a hotel and a restaurant in the city, had sued Celino after he cleared Tumlos and Andrade in a complaint involving the city’s Licensing Office, which the firm said refused to issue its business license for 2016 due to a tax deficiency.

KDC claimed that instead of using the sales report and quarterly tax returns it submitted, the city officials had added 30-percent on its tax base.

KDC said that the figures it declared in its sales report should be used as the tax base since it is in accordance with the tax returns it filed with the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

In a resolution issued in June 2016, Celino found that Tumlos and Andrade were not administratively liable and in effect upheld the assessment made by the two, prompting the firm to file a complaint against them before the Ombudsman.

Celino argued that prior to the computerization of the computation of the licensing fees, the tax rate used for hotels was 50 percent of 1 percent over the excess of PHP2 million. However, effective Jan. 1 2016, the Licensing Division adopted the computer-generation of taxes, wherein the tax base data is fed to the computer in order to generate the business tax due.

The computer program is based on the Local Government Code, which provides that the municipality may impose taxes on any business such as excise, value-added, or percentage tax.

Under the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended, the rate of tax shall not exceed 2 percent of gross sales or receipts of the preceding year. Thus, KDC’s tax was computed based on 2 percent of its sales instead of 50 percent of 1 percent over the excess of PHP2 million.

Celino further argued that he could not be held liable for misconduct since he already resolved the complaint against Tumlos and Andrade. However, he could not issue the 2016 Mayor’s permit to KDC since it did not pay the business tax yet.

Associate Justices Gabriel T. Ingles and Pamela Ann Maxino concurred in dismissing the company’s suit, saying “there is no merit in the contention that the Ombudsman’s ruling was tainted with grave abuse of discretion for being constitutionally infirm. Indeed, the Ombudsman’s ruling was brief”.

“A perusal of the assailed Joint Resolution reveals that the Ombudsman adequately justified its ruling with the facts and the law,” the CA said. (PNA)

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