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QC is most oppressive city government

/ 10:40 PM January 05, 2014

The present Quezon City administration is proving to be the most oppressive of all. First, it grabbed the 7-hectare property owned by the National Housing Authority and which is under usufruct to the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation and it is throwing out the tenant-gardeners. Then it passed an ordinance imposing a garbage collection tax on all property owners in Quezon City with penalties for those unable to pay on time. Three years ago, it passed another ordinance imposing a “social housing tax” on the same property owners. Quezon City property owners are the most taxed citizens of the Philippines.

Yet, the Quezon City government does not give back to them the services expected of it in exchange for the taxes it collects. Take the social housing tax. The propaganda then was that it would be used to provide housing for the squatters. It can afford to build housing for them without imposing an additional tax (it repeatedly boasts that it is the richest city in the Philippines with billions of pesos deposited in the banks and earning high interest over and under the table) but it still saddled property owners with an additional tax allegedly to build homes for the squatters who have illegally occupied their lots.

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The property owners paid the additional tax thinking that at last the city government would do its responsibility of protecting their properties from squatters, ejecting the latter so that they, the property owners, can build their own homes on the lots  which they worked and saved for years.

The term of the current city administration is almost over but the squatters are still there and the government continues to collect from the owners taxes on the lots occupied by the squatters. What is it doing with all the money it  collected?

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Ponder on this: Squatters pay no taxes and technically stole somebody else’s property. It is the owners who pay the taxes, and these taxes are being spent to pamper the lawbreakers. In Quezon City, it pays to be a lawbreaker. The law-abiding citizens are the perennial victims.

Is that what the Quezon City government is teaching the people?

Encouraged by the passage of the social housing tax, the Quezon City council passed another tax ordinance: the garbage fee. Again, the city government does not need additional funds to collect garbage which, as the Inquirer editorial said the other day, is a basic responsibility of the city government like police protection and traffic management. Quezon City has so much money that city officials devise ways to get some of it.

For example, some councilors have ghost employees whose salaries the councilors themselves pocket. At least two of them are on trial for that. I am sure they are not the only ones doing that.

Again, the law-abiding is punished but the lawbreaker goes scot free. People who generate the most garbage are the vendors in the wet markers and the talipapa. They are the ones who throw their garbage on the sidewalks and the streets. But they are not being made to pay a garbage fee. It is the property owners who are being victimized.

Most homeowners in the subdivisions practice trash recycling and segregation. They keep their garbage inside their fences until the garbage collectors arrive.

Some barangays and most homeowners associations already collect garbage-collection fees. The homeowners also pay various taxes to the city government which are supposed to be returned to them in the form of services. Only, there are scant services. Now comes the garbage fee.

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The favorite whipping boys are the property owners because it is easy to collect from them, and they cannot escape the tax net. They pay their real estate taxes every year (Quezon City has the biggest realty tax collection in the country). The government simply tacks on to the realty tax the additional taxes like the “social housing tax” and the “garbage fee.”

Mayor Herbert Bautista now says that the garbage fee will be used for environmental protection such as reforestation. Why is it called “garbage fee” then? And what reforestation can you do in Quezon City when all vacant spaces are being filled up with concrete? Quezon City is rapidly becoming a concrete jungle. The Quezon City government and a land developer want to convert the remaining lungs of the city into a concrete jungle. They want to transform into a business center the Manila Seedling Bank Environmental Center (want it so much that they resorted to land-grabbing), the Ninoy Aquino Nature Center, the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and golf course, and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center. And the mayor talks about reforestation.

Another land developer tried to grab part of the compound of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute but the latter successfully fought off the attempt. Can you imagine what life would be like in Quezon City when they replace all the green places with concrete? And imagine the horrendous traffic jams that the proposed business center will generate.

Why not put the business center on Luzon Avenue? The avenue is now part of C-5, a major street that now connects to Congressional Avenue and then to Mindanao Avenue and finally to NLEx. When completed, Luzon Avenue, or C-5, will go all the way to Bulacan, to connect to the future Republic Avenue. Hence, it is a major street; lots on both sides of the avenue are prime property. Yet they are now occupied by squatters.

Why not relocate the squatters to medium-rise buildings to be constructed with the collected housing tax? Cleared of squatters, the area would now be a perfect place for a business center located astride a major avenue. And Quezon City would collect big realty taxes from it.

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TAGS: garbage collection tax, manila seedling bank foundation, Metro, news, Quezon City, squatters, taxes
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