Some victims receive refunds, stay quiet
CASH refunds are being offered to some of the victims in the Balamban land tax scam.
One female landowner interviewed by Cebu Daily News said she was promised by Lucelle Agua, one of three implicated staff from the Assessor’s Office, that she would return the money paid for capital gains tax.
The land owner discovered in early June that fake bank deposit slips were used to show that payment was remitted.
“Mao gani pud nga dili lang ko magpa mention sa akong name kay gisaaran raba ko nga mabalik akong kwarta, unya basin di na unya ko mahatagan,” said the woman victim.
Another victim, a female government employee, said that some victims have already received refunds.
She said the recipients were asking others to stay “quiet” and not bring up the problem in the media so they would get their money back as well.
Another victim, a male Balamban government employee who paid P5,000 for the BIR tax obligation for a land sale, said he was promised a refund as well.
At least 100 individuals who found out their bank payments for capital gains tax were never received by the government submitted documents of their land transaction for review by Balamban municipal officials.
The victims of fraud identified the municipal assessor Tita Yray and two of her staff as the ones who facilitated their payments and processing documents.
At least two victims filed letter complaints with the Balamban mayor and executed affidavits.
The dubious transactions are believed to have started in 2009, said Rene Esdrelon, the newly appointed acting municipal assessor. (HR officer Napoleon Moralde was mistakenly described as the acting assessor in yesterday’s CDN story.)
Esdrelon explained that the year before that, payments were properly coursed through a BIR field staff member assigned in Balamban town. When the BIR employee was reassigned, lot owners had to go to Cebu City to deposit payments in the Land Bank of the Philippines.
That’s when the service of “facilitators” or “fixers” came in.
The three implicated assessor’s staff were asked to take a leave of absence on June 15 by Mayor Ace Binghay.
Lucelle Agua and Tita Yray returned to work on Wednesday, June 29, but were reassigned to different offices.
Several complainants, anxious to get their money back, are taking steps to organize since some of them have been receiving threats.
“We’ll meet later to plan what to do next. We have to assert our rights because that’s our hard-earned money. Never mind if we don’t get paid, but we have to make sure those people who did this must answer for their actions,” said one government employee.
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