An awful time to live in Bistek city


In the first two parts of this essay, it was pointed out that Quezon City (QC) Ordinance 2556, enacted earlier this year by the city council under Mayor and ex-cinema comedian Herbert “Bistek” Bautista, increased real estate taxes in the city by five times the current rates.

The increase to be realized from the new rates is computed at P700 million every year. That is a lot of tax money.

Despite the huge amount of tax revenues raised by the Bautista City government, QC taxpayers remain cheated. All they get in return for their taxes are corrupt and shameless city officials, as well as useless and moronic ordinances.

Squatter colonies are the only groups Bautista favors. These squatters invade private residential lots in the city, to the prejudice of the lawful owners. They also provide sanctuaries for criminal elements. Bautista protects the squatters from eviction in exchange for their command votes during elections.

Even if the lawful owners are unable to use their lots because of squatters, the QC government still extorts real estate taxes from the helpless lot owners, under threat of seizing the land if tax payments are not forthcoming.

Residents of QC reveal that this nefarious practice had been around even during the three terms of Feliciano Belmonte Jr., the predecessor of Bautista.

Belmonte’s daughter, the outgoing vice mayor, intends to continue the Belmonte political dynasty by running for mayor next year. If she wins, the onerous taxes will continue to increase in the predictable future.

What else do QC taxpayers get in return for the taxes they pay in Bautista City?
Wastage of public funds is what they get.

During Belmonte’s time, the city’s streets, parks and public school buildings were adorned with the letter’s SB, purportedly standing for “serbisyong bayan” but are obviously the initials of the mayor’s nickname, Sonny Belmonte. That way, Belmonte praised himself as mayor.

Bautista followed in Belmonte’s steps and installed ceramic tiles bearing his initials along road islands in QC. Bautista, however, outdid his predecessor by replacing Belmonte’s expensive sidewalk tiles along Tomas Morato Avenue with brand new ones bearing the current mayor’s initials.

Belmonte’s sidewalk tiles were a waste of public money because they were needless decorations. Bautista’s sidewalk tiles are worse because the Belmonte tiles were still in working condition when Bautista replaced them.

Under both Belmonte and Bautista, major roadways in QC remain vulnerable to flooding at the slightest rain. Today, it still easily floods at the EDSA segment between Camp Aguinaldo and Pedro Tuason Avenue; along Katipunan Avenue between Miriam College and Aurora Boulevard; along the Quezon Circle near East Avenue and at certain streets in the South Triangle area.

In 2016, the QC government allowed the purported vice president of the country, Leni Robredo, to use a New Manila mansion owned by the city. Why is a local government unit like QC hosting a national official at the expense of city taxpayers? Why does the city even own a mansion in the first place? Instead of increasing real estate taxes, Bautista should sell that mansion. Maintaining that mansion for Robredo is a waste of public funds extorted from taxpayers of QC.

It seems that the Bautista city government has a lot of public money to squander because the city’s treasure chest is oozing with money, a fact admitted by city hall during its annual celebrations.

If that is so, and if QC has enough money to waste on useless construction projects, why does Bautista need to increase real estate taxes?

Moreover, why was City Ordinance 2556 enacted a year before the elections? Is somebody going to stealthily use the P700-million additional revenue for the election campaign?

Under Mayor Ismael Mathay Jr., the city hall compound had lots of greenery and ample parking space, free of charge, was available. Today, the greenery replaced by ugly buildings and what used to be ample parking space is now mostly reserved for city officials and employees.

Unlike Belmonte and Bautista, Mathay did not display his name or initials in every conceivable city infrastructure project.

Incidentally, there were no drug addicts in the city council during Mathay’s time.

After Mayor Mathay left office, real estate owned by the QC government were systematically sold off to big private corporations. Large chunks of prime real estate at the East Triangle (formed by East Avenue, EDSA and Quezon Avenue) along EDSA are now owned by a shopping mall chain. The same is true for the equally valuable prime land inside the North Triangle (formed by North Avenue, EDSA and Quezon Avenue) facing EDSA.

The proceeds of the sale of such prime real estate should have been enough to stabilize the annual budget of QC. Why then is it still necessary to raise real estate taxes five times more than its current rate? Where did all that money go? Bautista and his vice mayor do not seem to be in the mood to provide answers.

The seedling bank located at the corner of EDSA and Quezon Avenue, which helped in protecting the environment, was evicted by city hall, despite court rulings favoring the bank. That valuable area is now being eyed by a commercial enterprise. Right now, the place is leased out to billboards.

Today is really an awful time to live in Bistek Bautista City.