Graft raps vs Batangas ex-mayor junked

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Batangas: The Office of the Ombudsman has cleared former Mayor Vilma Dimacuha of Batangas City from the criminal and administrative cases filed against her for granting a tax refund in favor of a power-generation firm in the city.

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In a 14-page decision, the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon said the former mayor is cleared of any cases filed against her for “lack of merit.”

Dimacuha’s case stemmed from a compliant filed by a certain Rodan Spiritu last February 27, 2013, questioning the decision of the mayor to grant a tax refund to Kepco Ilijan Power Corp. (Keilco)

Spiritu alleged that Dimacuha violated the rules and regulations of Batangas City on the imposition of business taxes when she directed the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) on June 9, 2011 to refund the P1.69 million to Keilco, who paid the a penalty for late payment of tax.

Lawyer Teodulfo Deguito, the legal officer of Batangas City, however, said Keilco had no intention of not paying its taxes as the company has prepared a Citibank manager’s check worth P6,134,728.61 as early as April 28, 2011.

Unfortunately, the employee arrived at the CTO on May 2, 2011 at around 5 p.m. when the office was already closed.

The CTO imposed a penalty of P1,687,050.00 for late payment, which Keilco paid under protest, asking for a refund.

Dimacuha approved the refund and noted that besides the company’s good track record in tax payments for seven years, it had no intention to delay the payment of its taxes.

“I am relieved that the truth has come out, that I did make the right decision in granting Keilco that tax refund,” Dimacuha said.

“During my term as mayor of Batangas City I had always tried to be fair with my constituents as well as the companies helping in the development of our city” she added.

Ombudsman Conchita Morales-Carpio has affirmed the July 23, 2013 decision of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, dismissing the case against Dimacuha for “lack of merit” on February 12, 2014.

The decision also noted that the respondent had the authority to grant tax protests, in accordance with Section 22 of the Batangas City Revenue Code.

“By necessary implication, this authority includes allowing the crediting of penalty already paid to future tax liabilities. As it stands, respondent’s actions enjoy the presumption of regularity and there is no evidence on record which effectively overturns the same,” the decision said.

In her counter-affidavit, Dimacuha said that the complaint filed against her by Spiritu was a form of political harassment, since the latter was a fictitious person and a mere tool by her opponents and those who were interested in her position.

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