QC gov’t says it will refund garbage fees
Homeowners in Quezon City who paid the annual garbage fee last year can look forward to a refund in 2016.
An official of the city government said on Wednesday that they would comply with the Supreme Court order to return to residents the P4 million it collected in garbage fees in 2014.
This was after the court struck down Quezon City Ordinance No. 2235 which imposed a garbage collection fee ranging from P100 to P500 on homeowners and between P25 and P200 for residents in condominiums or socialized housing units, depending on the size of their property.
According to the high tribunal, the ordinance was “unconstitutional and illegal” as it was inconsistent with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 which allowed cities to impose charges “only [on] the collection and transport of nonrecyclable and special waste and for their disposal into the sanitary landfill.”
The court added that the city ordinance “[did] not make a distinction as to the type of waste generated.”
“The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land so we need to follow it,” Quezon City Councilor Victor Ferrer Jr., who authored the controversial ordinance, said in a phone interview.
He added that Mayor Herbert Bautista had decided that the city government would simply credit the collected fee to a homeowner’s real property tax payment for next year.
Quezon City Public Affairs and Information Services Office acting head Regina Samson said that city officials were still fine-tuning the mechanics for the refund.
The ordinance was enacted in December 2013 and took effect the following year. However, its implementation was halted by the Supreme Court which issued a temporary restraining order in February 2014 based on a petition filed by a Quezon City resident, Jose Ferrer Jr.
According to the petitioner, the garbage fee amounted to “double taxation.”
Councilor Ferrer, however, explained that he had modeled the ordinance on similar regulations in effect in other countries. “The money could have been used for further garbage and waste management [projects],” he said.
A fact sheet on the ordinance posted on the city government’s website estimated that it would be able to collect as much as P52.41 million a year from residents. The revenues were to be used in “[defraying] part of the LGU’s (local government units) huge garbage collection burden and encourage investments in new technology that can help transform our city’s garbage into a resource.”
According to Councilor Ferrer, garbage collection remains one of the city government’s biggest expenses, costing it P1.14 billion annually.
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