Mayor cleared of raps for granting refund to power firm

by Arnell Ozaeta, ABS-CBN News Southern Tagalog

Posted at Mar 12 2014 08:01 PM | Updated as of Mar 13 2014 04:01 AM

BATANGAS - The Office of the Ombudsman has cleared former Batangas City Mayor Vilma Dimacuha of criminal and administrative offenses, including one for grave misconduct, filed against her for granting a tax refund in favor of a power-generation company.
In a 14-page decision by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, the government watchdog junked the complaints against Dimacuha for lack of merit.

Dimacuha's case stemmed from a compliant filed by Rodan Spiritu last February 27, 2013 questioning her decision to grant a tax refund to Kepco Ilijan Power Corp. (KEILCO).
Spiritu alleged that Dimacuha violated the rules and regulations of Batangas City on the imposition of business taxes when she directed the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) on June 9, 2011 to refund the P1.69 million to KEILCO, which paid the city as penalty for its late payment of tax.
Atty. Teodulfo Deguito, legal officer of Batangas City, however said that KEILCO had no intention of not paying its taxes when the company prepared its Citibank manager’s check worth P6,134,728.61 as early as April 28, 2011.
Unfortunately, the employee arrived at the city treasurer's office on May 2, 2011 at around 5 pm when the office was already closed.
The treasurer's office imposed a penalty of P1,687,050.00 for late payment, which KEILCO paid but with a protest, asking for a refund.
Dimacuha approved the refund. She noted that aside from the company’s good track record in tax payments for 7 years, it had no intention to delay the payment of its taxes.
“I am relieved that the truth has come out, that I did make the right decision in granting KEILCO that tax refund,” Dimacuha said.
“During my term as mayor of Batangas City I had always tried to be fair with my constituents as well as the companies helping in the development of our city” she added.
Ombudsman Conchita Morales-Carpio affirmed the July 23, 2013 decision of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, dismissing the case of Dimacuha for lack of merit on February 12, 2014.
The decision also noted that the respondent had the authority to grant tax protests, in accordance with Section 22 of the Batangas City Revenue Code.

“By necessary implication, this authority includes allowing the crediting of penalty already paid to future tax liabilities. As it stands, respondent’s actions enjoy the presumption of regularity and there is no evidence on record which effectively overturns the same” the decision said.
In her counter-affidavit, Dimacuha said that the complaint filed against her by Spiritu was a form of political harassment, since the latter was a fictitious person and a mere tool by her opponents and those who were interested in her position.