MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/15 February) —The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Bukidnon has approved an ordinance granting real property tax (RPT) discounts to properties with trees growing on them, provincial board member Jay Albarece said. Albarece, who proposed the ordinance in May 2012, told MindaNews the measure was passed last week with minimal revisions.
“The protection of the environment and [the] preservation of the natural splendor of the province, although primarily the duty of the government, are [also the] responsibilities of every citizen,” the ordinance stated.
Albarece said the ordinance will serve as incentive to residents who have been nursing trees in their own lots. “One way of encouraging private individuals and entities to actively participate in the reforestation of the province is to grant real property tax discounts to those who have been growing and protecting trees in their respective lots,” he said.
The ordinance provides a 10 percent discount for lots with at least two trees per 100 square meters (sq m) or at least 200 trees per hectare (ha A 20 percent discount would be given for lots with at least 10 trees per 100 sq m or a thousand trees per ha, it added.
But Albarece said that lots with past due RPT, regardless whether the penalties and surcharges will be later condoned, are not covered by the discount. He also said that lots already exempt from RPT are not covered by the discount.
To avail of the discount, the ordinance provides that a taxpayer should submit to the Office of the Municipal Assessor a “Green Lot Certification” issued by the Municipal Environment Natural Resources Officer, stating that the lot covered by the Declaration of Real Property has been inspected.
The exact number of trees found to be growing there at the time of the inspection should also be included. But the certification is valid only for one year, Albarece said, adding that those who will submit falsified certification will face penalties or possible criminal prosecution.
The ordinance cited that it is the policy of the state to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)