The City of Dumaguete suspended the unexpected implementation of a 1997 Tax Ordinance imposing a P20 tax on bicycles, after cyclists and netizens slammed the local government for failing to inform the public before it started impounding unregistered bicycles.
The sudden implementation of the levy on bicycles was conducted by the Traffic Management Office on Tuesday and Wednesday, upon the request of City Treasurer Christina Merced.
Merced wrote TMO Head Gilbert Ablong to ask that the Traffic Unit be mobilized to closely monitor, check and inspect private tricycles, chariots, delivery trucks, and bicycles, and apprehend those without stickers to maximize the collection of taxes for use in the various socio-economic programs of the City.
Without delay, TMO personnel went to the streets stopping bicycles, and after finding out they did not have license plates, proceeded to impound the units.
Under Section 69 of Ordinance No. 125 or “The 1997 Omnibus Tax Ordinance of the City of Dumaguete” a P20.00 fee is charged for bicycles, exclusive of the number plate.
However, the Ordinance does not specify the impounding of bicycles whose owners have not paid the P20.00 charge.
Objections to the City’s tax measure spread like wildfire on social media, prompting Deputy Mayor Karissa Tolentino-Maxino to request Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo to suspend the implementation of this law.
Remollo then ordered the TMO to suspend the tax collection effort, saying that while the intention was good, the public should have been informed one or two weeks prior.
He also said the Ordinance needs to be amended because license plates are not good for bicycles as they could cause injuries.
He called on the City Council to review the Ordinance passed 25 years ago in 1997.
Remollo said the Omnibus Tax Ordinance was not his administration’s creation but that it was already a law before he became Mayor of the City.
He noted that the implementation of the Omnibus Tax Ordinance has been “inconsistent” making people forget about its existence.
He blamed the media for failing to inform the people of the Omnibus Tax Ordinance.
Interviewed by radio man Noel Ramirez, Remollo said the media failed to inform the public about the Omnibus Tax law as their regular coverage diverted public attention to issues like the controversies at the City Council, his appointment of City Councilors as deputy mayors, or whether the Council will approve the Annual Investment Plan.
The Mayor said, however, that because of the controversy of people’s being caught without license, people have in fact, have remembered to renew their bicycle registration, “which is a good thing”.