Headline Gitnang Luzon: Lazatin favours rich — ABE

Partido Abe Kapampangan: Lazatin favors rich

Charlene Cayabyab

ANGELES CITY—The Partido Abe Kapampangan (PAK) has accused a solon here of favoring rich real property tax owners by reportedly understating real property tax (RPT) receivables.

PAK Deputy Secretary General William Aguilar said reports from the Commission on Audit (COA) indicated that Pampanga First District Representative Carmelo “Tarzan” Lazatin, during his stint as mayor, understated real property tax collection by P105 million in 2005, or more than half of the projected P200 million receivables reported by the city assessor.

“Lazatin has been summoning ordinary people to his jungle base, reportedly doling out P300 each, obviously in an effort to win their votes. On the other hand, he has granted huge concessions to the rich in hundreds of millions of pesos by reducing their property taxes,” Aguilar said.

In a statement, Lazatin’s camp denied Aguilar’s claim saying the issue is decade old.

“Mayor Pamintuan is grasping at straws,” Irish Calaguas, chief political affairs officer Lazatin, said.
“What Mayor Pamintuan is doing is unearthing reports from almost a decade ago and twisting its words to fit their needs,” she added.

COA report

The Lazatin camp admitted that the COA, in its Annual Audit Report for the year 2005, did remark that the RPT/Special Education Tax (RPT-SET) receivables were “erroneously set up.”

However, Calaguas said the error resulted from minor technicalities and miscommunication between the city accountant and the city assessor and was not a deliberate understatement of taxes.

According to the COA Report being cited by Pamintuan, at the beginning of the year 2005, the city accountant established total taxes due/receivables of P95 million based on the list of taxpayers prepared by the city treasurer, which was taken from the actual tax collection records in the real property tax account registers of 2003.

Meanwhile, the city assessor also submitted a report to the Department of Finance based on the assessment rolls which declared the amount of tax collectibles worth P200 million.

The COA report, in its recommendations, stated that at the beginning of the year, the city assessor should submit the updated assessment rolls with the names and amount due of taxpayers for the year to the city treasurer, who will then prepare a certified list of taxpayers to the city accountant based on the assessment rolls and not on the real property tax account registers in order to reconcile the records.

COA also noted in their report that the previous delay in the city assessor’s submission of the assessment rolls was a result of “delay in the computerized programming on the preparation of the assessment of the properties.”

The Lazatin camp also noted that the same COA report being cited by Pamintuan also showed the Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows of the city wherein the total collection from taxpayers for the year 2005 amounted to P223,167,220.80.

“Perhaps, Mayor Pamintuan doesn’t understand the COA report pero nagpapasalamat si Congressman Lazatin kay Mayor Pamintuan for acknowledging na malaking magbayad ng tax si Congressman,” Calaguas said.

‘Like dirt’

Meanwhile, PAK Deputy Secretary General Aguilar said Lazatin’s understatement of RPT was a manifestation of how he treats poor Angelenos.

“Lazatin is treating the poor and ordinary Angelenos like dirt. He has distributed CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) which actually came from the Department of Energy, but made it appear that it came from him. He doles out P300 to P500 to select community leaders, who then announce of Lazatin’ssupposed concern of the poor,” Aguilar said.

According to him, Lazatin has also been recently allegedly “gate crashing” in community meetings and even basketball games, have himself photographed then proclaim that the community is supporting him.

Pamintuan earlier criticized Lazatin as favoring the big property owners in the city, including Lazatin’s family. He bewailed that while ordinary salaried workers and employees are automatically taxed, concessions are given to the rich.

Lazatin has repeatedly charged the Pamintuan administration of exacting increased taxes on businessmen and landowners.

Pamintuan countered that he is just implementing more efficiently the local tax laws passed during the Lazatin administration.