NO STRINGS ATTACHED
There should be no conditions attached to the release of the shares of the barangays in the real property taxes (RPT) of the Cebu City government, the Department of Interior and Local Government Central Visayas (DILG 7) ruled.
City Hall, therefore, could not require village officials to sign promissory notes for the return of their disallowed allowances as a condition for the city accounting office to issue the certifications that will enable the barangays to collect their realty tax shares, according to DILG 7.
DILG 7 Director Rene Burdeos, in an opinion penned on Nov. 15 and received by the City Council last week, pointed out that the release of RPT is mandatory within five days after the end of every quarter, in accordance with Section 271 of the Local Government Code.
“With the use of the mandatory word “shall,” it is, therefore, obligatory for that City Government to remit to the barangays concerned their RPT shares and by the language of the law, such releases need not require any further action. Neither is it subject to any lien nor shall it be held back for any purpose,” read the opinion.
It was earlier reported that the city accounting office has asked some barangays in the city to execute promissory notes stating that they will pay back the incentives they received from the city government last year, which was earlier disallowed by the Commission on Audit (COA), in order for them to get a statement or certification of their respective barangays’ expected share of RPT from the city for next year.
This document is a requirement for barangays for the preparation of their annual budget for next year since their RPT share from the city is among their sources of funds for their budget.
Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) president and Tisa Barangay Captain Philip Zafra said he now hoped that the city accounting office, which is headed by city accountant Arlene Rentuza, will heed the DILG 7 opinion.
“That’s our contention from the very start. The law mandates the city to release the same to the barangay without any condition because it rightfully belongs to the barangay. I’m happy that the DILG has rendered a favorable opinion to us,” he said.
The RPT shares are important fund source for barangays, especially for smaller barangays, as it augments their shares from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), which is the main source of funds for barangays, said Zafra.
He explained that the computation of a barangay’s RPT share depends on several factors, including land area, population and the number of taxable real properties in their area.
In Tisa, a relatively big barangay, they received P2.18 million as RPT share from the city from January to December this year. They expect around the same amount for next year.
Zafra said that his barangay is proposing a P26 million budget next year, P22 million of which would come from their IRA, P2.18 million from RPT and the rest from outer sources, to include rentals from the market and sports complex as well as fees from barangay clearances.
Ready to respond
Sought for comment on the opinion, Rentuza said she will answer it in a letter she will be sending to the city council.
She said her office is still receiving promissory notes from barangays as a condition for clearance for RPT certification.
“I think that will be best answered in my letter to the SP (Sangguniang Panlungsod). In fact, until last Friday I kept receiving promissory notes when barangay officials secured a clearance from the accounting office,” she told Cebu Daily News in a text message yesterday.
Tejero barangay councilman Garry Lao also welcomed the DILG opinion.
Village officials of Tejero were among those who had no choice but to execute a promissory note that they will pay back their disallowed incentives in order to get their RPT share certification from the accounting office.
They stated that they will allow the accounting office to deduct P2,400 from their monthly salaries in order to pay in staggered basis their disallowed barangay incentives.
“With that opinion, we will request the city accounting office to hold off the deduction in the meantime,” Lao told CDN.
Lao was among those who raised the concern about the promissory notes being required by the accounting office in a CDN report last October.
In Barangay Tejero, the RPT share of around P2 million a year is close to 20 percent of the barangay’s total annual fund source, Lao said.
By next year, Lao said they were proposing an P11 million budget, which is a P1 million more than their budget this year.
The incentives for barangay officials were given out during the administration of then mayor Michael Rama who, in 2015, ordered each barangay captain to receive a P5,000 monthly cash incentive, for a total of P60,000 for the whole year.
Barangay councilmen each received P3,000 per month or a total of P36,000; while barangay secretaries and treasurers each received P2,000 per month or a total of P24,000. The incentives were released on a quarterly basis.
But earlier this year, COA disallowed the grant of cash incentives, which totaled P28.6 million, saying it was charged to the wrong account.
In an earlier interview, Rentuza explained that their requirement of a promissory note was “standard accounting procedure” as a way of compromise since the barangays have an obligation to pay back their incentives.
When barangays started asking for their certifications, Rentuza said they asked them to settle their obligations first.
But since the barangay officials told her that they could not do it right away, Rentuza said the village officials agreed to execute promissory notes stating that they would pay back the disallowed incentives in staggered basis in varying periods of time.
The concern reached Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella who wrote the DILG, asking for their opinion on the matter.
In his letter, Labella pointed out that under Section 330 of the Local Government Code, barangay treasurers should submit to the barangay captain a statement covering the estimates of income and expenditures for the coming year on or before September 15 of each year.
The statement should be based also on certified statements issued by the city treasurer and accounting offices.
Labella also pointed out that the COA disallowance on the barangay incentives is currently under appeal with the COA regional director and thus not yet final and executory.
City treasurer Tessie Camarillo, when informed about the DILG opinion, said she would withhold her comment until she has read Burdeos’ opinion.
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