SC junks petition vs 2016 QC fair market value ordinance

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2018 06:23 PM

MANILA - Quezon City residents are set to see their real property taxes increase after the Supreme Court (SC) junked a petition questioning a 2016 city ordinance raising the fair market value (FMV) of land and basic unit construction cost for buildings in the city.

In dismissing the petition, the SC also lifted the April 2017 temporary restraining order it had issued that put the implementation of the ordinance on hold. 

In a 13-page decision dated September 18, 2018 but made public only on Wednesday, the Supreme Court en banc dismissed the petition filed by the Alliance of Quezon City Homeowners’ Association Inc (Alliance) after finding that the association has no legal capacity to sue.

In its petition before the SC, Alliance claimed that it is a non-stock, non-profit corporation that filed the suit to stop the increase in FMVs, arguing that it would lead to higher taxes. The FMV of a property is the basis for computing its corresponding real property tax.

But the SC found that Alliance, based on its own admission, has no personality to sue because its certification of registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission had been revoked and it is also not registered with the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board.

“Jurisprudence provides that an unregistered association, having no separate juridical personality, lacks the capacity to sue in its own name,” read the decision.

The Court noted that only Alliance was named as petitioner. Had it named actual persons as co-petitioners, the Court might have ruled on the merits, as in the petition of the Samahan ng mga Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK), which questioned curfew ordinances. 

In that case, the court upheld the constitutionality of a Quezon City ordinance but struck down those in Manila and Navotas.

“In the final analysis, there is no proper petitioner to the present suit. Should this case proceed despite Alliance’s legal non-existence, the Court will certainly remain in continuous quandary as to who should the reliefs be granted to, since no other proper party filed the case,” it said.

Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, who penned the decision, recognized the strong public interest and transcendental importance involved in the petition, that’s why the Court had exempt it from complying with technical rules such as prior resort to administrative remedies and lower courts.

“A local government unit’s authority to increase the FMVs of properties for purposes of local taxation is a question that indisputably affects the public at large. As for QC, the widespread effect of the 2016 Ordinance to its constituents is glaringly apparent," said the magistrate.

She pointed out that the city's 16,112.8-ha land area accounts for nearly a fourth of the entire Metro Manila, and that the city hosts 23.3 percent of the capital region's population. 

Based on Alliance’s petition, more than 3 million residents of Quezon City will be affected by the implementation of the ordinance.

Despite this, the Court said it had no choice but to dismiss the petition.

“[T]he resolution of the issues anent the validity and constitutionality of Quezon City Ordinance No. SP-2556, Series of 2016, while indeed of great public interest and of transcendental importance, must nonetheless wait the filing of the proper case by the proper party,” it said.

Eleven other justices concurred in Bernabe’s ponencia, including then Chief Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro. Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio was then on official leave.