Deception in Bistek-Belmonte City

2082

Quezon City officials are so crass that they have resorted to deception just to get votes from the unsuspecting city population. After the first deception, a second — a double cross — will be visited on the voters.

From 2001 to 2010, Quezon City was ruled by the Belmonte-Bautista tandem, namely, ex-Marcos administration bureaucrat Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. as mayor and ex-cinema comedian Herbert “Bistek” Bautista as vice. During those nine years, Belmonte flooded the city, using public funds, with the letters SB, supposedly to mean “serbisyong bayan,” but obviously standing for his nickname, Sonny Belmonte. Even public schools near the Batasang Pambansa north of the city carry the Belmonte name everywhere.

During that time, the Belmonte and Bautista were staunch supporters of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In 2010, Belmonte gave the city throne to Bautista, but with Joy Belmonte, the former mayor’s daughter, as vice mayor.

Since Bautista is ineligible to run for mayor this year, he is currently seeking a seat in the House of Representatives.

It was also in 2010 when Bautista and Belmonte became political turncoats by shifting their support to the new President, Benigno Aquino III and his hated Liberal Party. In 2016, they supported the presidential bid of the LP’s Mar Roxas against the winner, Rodrigo Duterte of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP).

After Duterte won, Bautista joined PDP, but only after he allowed Vice President Leni Robredo of the LP to live in a New Manila mansion owned and maintained by the city government.
Observers believe that Bautista’s pro-Robredo gesture ensures that Bautista will be in good graces with Robredo in case anything happens to Duterte. That’s political opportunism at its baldest form.

As expected, Joy Belmonte is running for mayor. Outgoing Quezon City Rep. Vincent “Bingbong” Crisologo will be running against her. Crisologo has many supporters.

In 2016, the Quezon City Council headed by Joy Belmonte enacted City Ordinance 2556 which increased by 500 percent the taxable value of real estate in the city. An additional P700 million was expected from the increment alone which would have been used for infrastructure.

Surprisingly, the real estate taxes came after city propagandists announced that the city is arguably the richest in Metropolitan Manila. The increase also came months after criminal charges were filed in the Sandiganbayan against Councilor Roderick Paulate, allegedly for hiring ghost employees at the expense of the city treasury. Paulate is running for vice mayor.

Fortunately, an association of homeowners’ associations in Quezon City questioned the tax ordinance in the Supreme Court. Because the SC issued a temporary restraining order, Bautista-Belmonte City was unable to enforce the tax ordinance.

In September 2018, the SC dismissed the petition on a technicality. Being so, there is no more legal impediment to its enforcement.

The scheming politicians at Quezon City Hall, however, realized that enforcing the 500 percent increase in real estate taxes as the 2019 election campaign season is about to begin is not a good political strategy. Thus, on 6 December 2018, Bautista signed City Ordinance 2778 which suspended the enforcement of the tax ordinance until after the May 2019 national and local elections.

City propagandists announced that the suspension is to “lessen the burden of inflation for the residents and taxpayers of Quezon City.” That’s hogwash!

First, it conflicts with the official position of the city government in the SC case that the revenues are very badly needed. It turns out that the city government can do without the real estate tax increases in the meantime!

Second, Quezon City Hall cannot freely spend public funds during an election season. Any money it will raise from the tax increase cannot be spent until after the 2019 elections.
Third, if the suspension is really to lessen the burden of inflation, it is a mere placebo because the tax increases will be immediately implemented a few months after the city politicians assume office for a new term.

The real reason for the suspension is to deceive the electorate into voting for Bautista, Belmonte and their minions.

As for the double cross, it will come after the May 2019 polls when city politicians no longer need to court voters. By then, Belmonte City will enforce the 500 percent increase in real estate taxes come hell or high water.

These are deceiving times in Quezon City.

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