Councilor asked: Where did part of tax collections go?

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

ANGELES CITY -- City Administrator Dennis Albert Pamintuan expressed concern over the repeated statements of Councilor Carmelo Lazatin that then mayor Carmelo Lazatin, the latter's father, was able to collect P1 billion in revenues and local taxes in 2007 without increasing real estate property taxes (RPT).

"We should seriously look into Councilor Lazatin's statement, and in fact, we have instructed our legal department to conduct a formal investigation to do so. Because if true, we should ask the councilor and his father where some P700 million in tax collections went - because official records, including those of the Commission on Audit (COA), say that total revenues of the city in 2007 only amounted to P307.5 million," Pamintuan said in a radio interview on Thursday.

In the same program last Tuesday, Councilor Lazatin expressed his opposition on the increased RPT that was approved by the City Council late December last year, saying his father collected P1 billion in taxes in 2007 without increasing the RPT.


Lazatin made the same statement last year when he tried to derail the approval of the measure, which, according to Pamintuan, has been overdue for 18 years.

"Various national government agencies, including the Department of Finance, the Department of Interior and Local Government and the COA have written us to update our RPT, which according to law should be done every three years. In the case of Angeles City, this has not been done since 1995," he said.

From 1995 till 2010, the RPT rates in Angeles City remained in post-Pinatubo eruption levels under the leadership of Lazatin and Francis Nepomuceno, both coming from landed families. Pundits say any increase in land and property taxes would require larger tax payments from them because of the large real estate properties of the two families.

"We assure our people that any increase in taxes would accrue back to them in the form of increased social services and better infrastructure," Pamintuan said.

He enumerated many planned projects of the city that will now be implemented because of the expected increase in revenues.

In a related development, Lito Ganzon, president of the League of Barangay Chairmen, supported Pamintuan's position and vowed to deliver a privilege speech next week to formally ask for a City Council’s probe over Councilor Lazatin's statements.

"I agree that we should give opportunity to Councilor Lazatin, and perhaps even his father, to clarify the issue once and for all. City Administrator Pamintuan raised a valid point - where is the P700 million in collections when only P307 million was reflected in the books?" he said.

"While we should give Councilor Lazatin the benefit of the doubt over his statements, I think he should be given the opportunity to correct his figures if he made a mistake, so as not to mislead our people," he added.

According to official city records, revenue collections of the city never went beyond the P1-billion mark, starting from P307.5 million during the last year of the Lazatin administration of three terms in 2007 to P435.9 million at the end of Nepomuceno's term in 2010, and P504.5 in 2011, the first full year of the administration of Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan. (PR)

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 13, 2014.

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