Thursday, February 07, 2008

town cannot collect fees from garbage haulers

DoJ says Rizal town cannot collect fees from garbage haulers

RODRIGUEZ, Rizal — The municipal government here cannot collect trucking fees from haulers who are dumping garbage at the 19-hectare sanitary landfill of the Rizal provincial government, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said.

A seven-page communcation, signed by Gonzalez last Jan. 29, was sent to the Rodrigo Berenguer and Guno Law Office, counsel for petitioner Lilibeth Vicente. Copies of the communication were furnished the sangguniang bayan of Rodriguez, and the sangguniang panlalawigan of Rizal.

The secretary’s letter stated that the Rizal provincial board has the power to review ordinances enacted by the Rodriguez municipal government and to declare these null and void because the town cannot invoke the provision of the 1987 Constitution on local autonomy or decentralization. This "does not make local governments sovereign within the state," the letter said.

Earlier, the Rodriguez municipal council filed with the Department of Justice (DoJ) a pettion asking to annul the ruling issued by the Rizal provincial board that the fees charged by Rodriguez municipal government on Metro Manila garbage haulers are considered "ultra vires" or beyond the scope of its power.

The ruling was issued on the complaints aired by haulers Solid Waste Contractors Association of the Philippines (SWACAP), S.M. Coronado Service Corp., and Leonel Waste Management Corp., Metro Manila garbage haulers, who said that they are being "exorbitantly charged" by the Rodriguez municipal government with fees that were increased from R225 to R425 per trip.

In collecting the questioned fees, the sangguniang bayan of the Rodriguez "contravened the common limitations on its taxing powers as a local government unit under the Local Government Code," Gonzalez’s letter-opinion stated.

It also stated that the imposition of the so-called "development exaction fees" by the municipal government on Metro Manila garbage haulers result in the indirect imposition insofar as not only the local government units but also the national government.

Gonzalez said that the law unequivocally provides that taxes, fees or charges of any kind on the national government, its instrumentalities, and local government units cannot be imposed by municipalities.

Rodriguez town, in effect, is imposing indirect taxes because the burden of the fees it is charging from Metro Manila garbage haulers will ultimately be passed on to the different towns and cities in Metro Manila, he said.

By DANNY JUNCO - Manila Bulletin

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