What’s with the COA?
Allow us to react to “COA: Makati real property market values outdated” (Metro, 8/29/17) where the Commission on Audit urged Makati City to update its “real property valuations for taxation purposes.” No reason was given for such need to increase valuations except that its last schedule of fair market values (SFMV) was 19 years old and therefore overdue for an upward adjustment. As everybody already knows, that city is still awash with cash despite charges of extensive and massive looting lodged in the Sandiganbayan against former mayor Jejomar Binay and some members of his family who ruled it for decades.
As in the case of Quezon City, the COA had also urged it to increase valuations since its last SFMV was about 20 years old—to the consternation of Quezon City taxpayers who now have to pay practically double the previous realty tax exactions and all in the face of the ineptitude and incompetence they perceive in the performance of their city officials’ duties. Despite being still the richest local government unit in the entire country, this city is largely a mess when it comes to the most basic acts of governance: Its center islands, just a stone’s throw away from City Hall, continue to be “occupied” by squatters who defy any form of order and discipline; recalcitrant jeepney drivers continue to ignore the law requiring them to turn their headlights on at night thereby posing danger to vehicular and pedestrian traffic; secondary road jams due to unruly tricycle drivers continue to make travel within the city a living hell; scruffy piles of garbage almost everywhere remain uncollected; ad nauseam. One is often led to wonder, is there anyone in charge?
So what’s with the COA? Does it have nothing better to do than to keep reminding local government units to impose more taxes? What has it accomplished by way of curbing, if not totally preventing, the frequent malfeasance committed by its own personnel acting as “resident auditors” in most local government units and colluding with local officials who loot public funds raised through taxes? What measures has it put in place to snooker incorrigible crooks pocketing public funds? Or is it just content with submitting reports long after the plunder is done and the money forever gone?
STEPHEN L. MONSANTO, Monsanto Law Office, Loyola Heights, QC firstname.lastname@example.org
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