Sto. Tomas tax declarations ordered cancelled; law cited

>> Saturday, June 16, 2018

DENR warns erring town assessors 

By Dexter A. See

 BAGUIO CITY -- The Cordillera Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources warned all municipal assessors in the region to cease and desist from issuing tax declarations covering lands within forest reservations such as Mt. Sto Tomas here because such act is in clear violation of Presidential Decree 705 or Revised Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines.
DENR-CAR regional director Pablo said that there is already a precedent against the issuance of tax declarations by municipal assessors covering lands within forest reservations which is the Permanent Environment Protection Order (PEPO) covering the over 3,000-hectare Mount Sto. Tomas reservation that directed the municipal assessor to cancel all tax declarations that were previously issued to individuals living in the area that is why municipal assessors in other parts of the region must take the appropriate precautions by refraining from issuing said documents to avoid future criminal and administrative charges pursuant to the laws, rules and regulations.
 “We are receiving information of some municipal assessors issuing tax declarations to individuals covering certain portions of forest reservations in their areas of jurisdiction when such act is unlawful under our existing laws. We should not be blamed by the local assessors once charges will be filed against them because we already issued to them the appropriate advisory to be strictly followed but it seems there are still existing declarations covering critical watersheds in the different parts of the region,” Pablo said.
The DENR-CAR official said tax declarations are not proofs of ownership but are mere proofs of possession for taxation purposes but tax declarations cannot cover forest reservations because the law clearly provides that watershed areas are not alienable and disposable.
According to him, one of the reasons for the alleged proliferation of massive encroachments in forest reservations around the region is the numerous tax declarations issued by municipal assessors being used by individuals as their evidence to introduce improvements inside watersheds posing serious threats to the state of the environment.
He said there were several previous notices issued by the agency to the municipal assessors for them to initiate the immediate cancellation of the issued tax declarations covering forest reservations in their places but there seems to be least compliance to the directive.
Pablo said the agency will furnish assessors the latest circulars from their central office that mandate the cancellation of all tax declarations previously issued covering portions of forest reservations to prevent unscrupulous individuals from interpreting the same as their proof of ownership over their declared areas.
 He said aside from revoking the tax declarations covering watersheds, local officials should see to it that the damaged portions of the reservations should be reforested by those who destroyed them to guarantee the revitalization of the said places and help bring back the greenery of the forests.


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