Increase in Iloilo City’s real property taxes unjustified

City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog spent an afternoon trying to persuade real property owners in Iloilo city, particularly those belonging to the business sector, that a general revision of the local schedule of market values for real properties is necessary.

Mabilog said Iloilo City needs more revenues to meet its obligations. The IRA share of the city has been reduced, he claimed, with the addition of several new cities. He tried to downplay the fact that Iloilo City is wallowing in debt, and its present financial condition is choking its ability to pay for them.

There’s no argument a general revision is necessary. There have been a number of infrastructure projects that has changed the landscape of the city. New business parks have started to emerge. Under ordinary circumstances, these are solid ground upon which to anchor increasing the market values of real estate properties in Iloilo City.

But there is one important point that drowns this argument in its favor. And that is wasteful manner by which the Mabilog administration has managed the city’s finances. At no other time in the city’s history have we seen as many as 5,000 job hires in its payroll. That is a best estimate, because the city government is keeping the figures under wraps. But if there is one thing I can be sure about, it’s the fact that hundreds of millions of pesos were expended to pay for their wages.

The job hires are just one example of fiscal mis-management of the city. The city government loves to throw away money on senseless activities. The Mabilog administration spends millions to buy lechon and flowers. It is now in the process of buying the Ker and Company property at a dizzying price of P46 million. That property will be turned into a parking lot.

The Mabilog administration hasn’t come clean on issues of overpricing for the Iloilo City Hall building. It hasn’t explained to the people why more than a hundred million in taxes were paid for the city’s loan for the Pavia housing project. So much money wasted, and it can’t even pay its utility bills with PECO and PLDT.

Real Property taxes are the city’s biggest local source of revenues. Its share in the Internal Revenue Allotment contributes the heftiest sum for its annual budget. It has a right to collect this real property tax. But that is based on the assumption that its revenues are allocated for activities that contribute to the well-being of the people in the community.

On this point, we should oppose any move to increase real property taxes. Not until the Mabilog administration can convince us that it is handling our money with prudence should we agree to shelling out bigger sums of money for the city. We should not be hoodwinked into supporting the wastefulness of this city mayor with our hard-earned money.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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