Cebu city tax code violations
Cebu City Hall is not done yet.
Three more business establishments in the city have been ordered closed by the city government for failing to pay local taxes and for operating without a new business permit.
The food establishments Time Out Restaurant, D’ ALLEY @ Jeshian Cafe and Ed’s Tambayan were issued with separate closure orders yesterday, signed by Mayor Tomas Osmeña and dated August 8.
Yesterday afternoon, City Hall lawyers and members of the Prevention, Restoration, Order, Beautification, Enhancement (Probe) team implemented the closure order of Time Out Restaurant and D’ ALLEY @ Jeshian Cafe.
The closure order for Ed’s Tambayan will be implemented on Monday, September 11, according to Probe head Susan Berido.
The closure order for Time Out Restaurant said that the establishment’s owner, Regine Manigold, actually received a notice of violation as early as July 20 from the City Legal Office.
A similar notice was also handed to Jeriane Bartido, owner of D’ ALLEY @ Jeshian Cafe, last July 12, informing Bartido.
The two establishments failed to pay the local business tax, social amelioration tax, fees and other charges and were found to have been operating with expired business permits, which violates the provisions of the Tax Ordinance of Cebu City.
“In view of the foregoing, you are hereby ordered to close the operation of your business immediately upon receipt hereof until such time that you can comply with all the requirements for operating a business as mandated,” read the order.
Copies of the closure orders were posted by Mayor Osmeña on his Facebook page.
He lamented that the closure came after months of warning.
“We’re closer to the end of 2017 than we are to the beginning. There is no excuse,” the mayor said in his post.
During City Hall’s implementation of the closure order yesterday afternoon, both establishments were already closed.
At the Time Out Restaurant, which is located along F. Ramos Street, no one from the establishment entertained the group from City Hall. A foreigner came out of the restaurant, but he said that he was not related to the owners of the establishment.
At the D’ ALLEY @ Jeshian Cafe, which is located in Barangay Kamagayan, a woman met with the team from City Hall. She said the owner was in City Hall at that time and was trying to resolve the matter.
“There were no problems during the implementation of the closure. Actually, they already know about it,” said Berido, who reminded the two establishments that they cannot operate and remove the tarpaulin announcing the closure order that was posted by City Hall unless they comply with the requirements.
With the closure of the two establishments, City Hall has already padlocked a total of six business establishments in the city since August this year.
Rico’s Lechon’s two branches in Barangay Mabolo and along Escario St. and its commissary in Barangay Talamban, and the Chuva-Chuva Spa in Barangay Mabolo were also ordered closed by the city last month for operating with no business permits.
According to City Attorney Joseph Bernaldez, these erring establishments can still seek remedy from the city government by appealing directly to the mayor.
“One possible remedy that they can avail of is to appeal to the mayor personally. Or they can send their letter (seeking) reconsideration. It depends on the mayor if he will agree or not,” he said.
He pointed out that it is the mayor who has the power to issue business permits or deny applications for business permits.
“As we said before, the power of the mayor to issue business permits is discretionary and not ministerial. If they are affected and they were closed because they did not comply, they should appeal to the mayor’s office,” Bernaldez added.
The third latest closure order was addressed to Edward Maglente, owner of Ed’s Tambayan, which is located in Barangay Talamban.
Unlike the other two establishments that failed to pay other local taxes and fees, Ed’s Tambayan was ordered closed only for operating without a business permit. The establishment was given a notice to comply with the requirement as early as July 12.
The new set of closure orders came after the mayor’s recent pronouncement that he is willing to go easy on establishments with no business permits as long as they pay proper taxes.
In his press conference yesterday, Mayor Osmeña reiterated this warning that there would be no compromises with erring business establishments.
“Even if you are a drug lord, you have to pay your taxes. I’m just trying to break it down. Just pay your taxes. If you don’t pay, that is priority number one of the mayor,” he told reporters.
This is why, Osmeña said, he does not want to go easy on the owner of Rico’s Lechon, whom he called a “tax evader.”
He said the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) will not entertain tax evaders.
He said Rico’s Lechon should settle their taxes that accrued over a period of past five years, which he said the city government did not even know about until the management of the restaurant chain revealed they had been losing P500,000 in daily revenue due to the closure of their restaurants last month.
The mayor likewise pointed out that the Rico’s Lechon commissary is also being slapped with other violations, including the absence of a sanitary permit from the City Health Department and an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Rico’s Lechon has already filed a petition for injunction and mandamus in court to compel the city to act on its business permit application.
The restaurant’s management earlier claimed the closure of their two branches and commissary was tainted with personal vendetta after they decided to cut ties with the mayor’s daughter-in-law, Bea Villegas-Osmeña, who was a shareholder of their branch in Barangay Mabolo for the past five years. /WITH CORRESPONDENT INNA GIAN MEJIA