Monday, April 18, 2011
No amendments for new land tax – Governor
Provincial Information Officer Butch Velasco invited me recently to attend the press conference led by Governor Amado T. Espino despite this paper’s critical stance to Espino’s new higher rates of Real Property Tax.
The conference held at the swanky Training Centre at the Capitol Ground in Lingayen was attended by almost all members of the provincial board and almost all mayors of Pangasinan.
It was a treat, man.
Lydia Colobong of Radio Veritas smarted to the governor how could she explained to the listeners when Provincial Assessor Nestor Quimbao rudely treated her at his office...
Colobong said that the provincial assessor would not grant her an interview since he already spoke at TV-5. Quimbao even told her that it was not necessary to furnish her a copy of the new rates of the valuation since she could not even understand it.
Almost everybody laughed and guffawed.
“It was all about numbers, you would not understand it,” she repeated what the provincial assessor told her.
She told the governor: “Pag naging bukas lang tayo sa publiko hindi po sana humantong sa ganito kaya talagang laganap po ang ating pag-paliwanag sa publiko”.
She said she wanted to tell this problem to Espino but she could not do it as she is barred from directly talking with him.
Instead of reprimanding the faux pass of his assessor, Espino was not amused with the lady broadcaster: “Iyung sinasabi mo na hindi makakapasok direct sa opisina ko hindi na ako naniniwala duon dahil araw-araw bukas ang opisina ko, e.”
He said that when Colobong was looking for him he was not there probably.
“Huwag mo naman sabihin iyon. Baka sabihin nila pinagbabawal ko ang pag-pasok sa opisina ko. Huwag naman. Ingatan naman ninyo ang magsabi dahil ang opisina ko madaling araw bukas, e. Okay? So mali ata ang statement mo na iyan na hindi nakakapasok sa opisina ko,” the governor said.
Espino said that he wanted the public to know that they could enter his office even at the wee hours of the night and in the early morning.
Lelia Sy – the cousin of Prima Fa Sy who lives in the Rules of Court- lengthily and emotionally asked the governor to mitigate the land tax as she is still recovering from the damage of her properties in Mangaldan from the floods brought by Killer Typhoon Pepeng in 2009.
In my unfortunate career as a media man, it was the first time I saw a colleague in Lelia cried as she asked a question.
“Showbiz ang press conference dito sa Lingayen,” I told two media men who introduced to me that they were John Doe and Jane Doe.
“Mag-pinsan ba sila, Mortz? Kasi pareho sila ng apelyido,” a fake and unschooled media man asked me there, too.
Instead of answering Lelia the governor told Mangaldan Mayor Hermie Romero for several times that the big tarps in his municipal town announcing to the public that the new valuation is the initiative of the provincial government has gave different meaning to the public.
The soft –spoken mayor explained that the reason he posted two huge tarpaulins so that it would put a stop to the incessant queries of tax payers who were asked to pay an average 300% spike on their land tax.
I saw some mayors quite apprehensive. I heard reports that some of them have tarps displayed, too, in their municipal halls.
“Kung mag-hugas kayo ng kamay, wag iyung wisik-wisik or tuwalya lang. Batya ang gamitin ninyo,” Espino told the mayors.
He said the towns all over the province would benefit from the new RPT that has not been raised for nine years.
It was a press conference that saw the governor actively answering the queries, and saw most of the Board Members and mayors silently contend themselves in one place.
Oh, before I forgot. I asked the members of the Board there if what they just passed was politically explosive.
I said that in an earlier press conference called by the Pangasinan Press Club, Inc. steered by Atty. Gonzalo Duque in Dagupan City, a farmer told me that he used to pay P3000 for his three-hectare rice land in Balungao. With the new RPT he would be paying a hefty P12 thousand this year.
“In my analogy, if a farmer owns a hectare of the same land and pays P1000 last year, he pays now P4000 if the valuation of his land soared to 300%. This is quite burdensome to a marginalized farmer”.
I posed if there is a possibility to mitigate by amending the valuation in a graduated or staggered basis.
Instead of the members of the Board , it was Governor Espino who answered:
“The first question that sinabi ko na dito ang pinaka-magandang irrigated land is P1,600 ang value per hectare. Kung nagbayad siya ng P5,000, ewan ko baka hindi marunong ng arithmetic ang pinag-bayaran niya. Ganoon ka simple iyon. Kaya hind ko alam kung sino iyung nagtanung sa inyo. Pero iyung amendahan dito sa palagay ko wala na tayung magagawa doon. Marami na tayung trabahung gagawin. So gagalawin din natin ito sa 2012, kaya ituloy na natin ito dahil ang assessment na ito iyon din ang assessment ng 2012. Okay ba sa inyo?”
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