We, the Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese of Surigao, Iglesia Filpina Independiente, have come together on February 14, 2012 at our Cathedral Church here in Surigao City, to counsel with each other and make public our collective sentiments and position concerning the on-going implementation of the Provincial Governor’s Executive Order #001, Series of 2011: AN ORDER REQUIRING A TAX CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE ISSUED BY THE PROVINCIAL, CITY AND/OR MUNICIPAL TREASURER, AS THE CASE MAY BE, EVIDENCING PAYMENT OF YEARLY TAX OBLIGATIONS FROM ANY REQUESTER INCLUDING LOCAL CONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS OF GOODS AND SERVICES, AND JOB APPLICANTS BEFORE ISSUANCE OF OFFICIAL RECORDS and of the Division Memorandum #08, Series of 2012, Division of Surigao del Norte, Department of Education entitled: SUBMISSION OF TAX CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE ANNUALLY.
That after prayerful study and reflection, consultation with legal minds and dialogue with church members – parents, professionals and ordinary members alike – we unequivocally declare that:
1. We believe that the Provincial Governor’s Executive Order #001, Series 2011 is illegal and irregular. The said Executive Order of the Provincial Governor is not covered by any ordinance enacted by the Provincial Board of the Province of Surigao del Norte, otherwise such ordinance must have been cited by the said Executive Order.
We likewise believe that even if the said Executive Order is backed up by an ordinance, it is still immoral and unconstitutional since it infringes on the constitutional right to labour, including the right to just compensation. The Provincial Governor’s Executive Order mandated the requirement of tax clearance certificate to all professionals and other workers/employees. By requiring tax clearance certificate, the Executive Order imposes unreasonable requirement of payment of tax that is unrelated to compensable works to be done a day, violating the Labor Code which protects the right to labor.
2. We also believe that that Division Memorandum #08, Series 2012 of the Division of Surigao del Norte, Department of Education has no legal authority to require or impose such tax clearance certificates before graduating students are allowed to graduate as contained by the said Memorandum. The requirement infringes on the constitutional right to education, which our Constitution provides for that must be accessible to all.
We likewise maintain that requiring teachers, school personnel and teacher/job applicants to submit tax clearance certificate as mandated by the said Memorandum is unreasonable and impertinent. The duties of the teachers, school personnel and teacher/job applicants have no possible connections to the payment of taxes. Their duties pertain to education and other services of the Department of Education, duties which they owe to the public; while the payment of tax is their obligation arising from property ownership in their private life capacity. It is clear to us that their private obligations cannot be made to prevail over, interfere with or impede the public duties of those connected with the Department of Education, which ridiculously the Memorandum intends to install.
That abiding with the sentiments of the public and in exercising our pastoral ministry and spiritual leadership with our people, we therefore make the following clarion calls:
1. We call on the Provincial Governor to recall the implementation of her Executive Order 001, Series 2011 and instead direct government agencies under her charge, whose mandates are tax-collection related, to seriously, strictly and diligently collect existing tax schemes and conduct various tax consciousness activities around the province.
2. We urge the Assistant Schools Division Superintendent of Surigao del Norte Schools Division to withdraw her Memorandum #08, Series 2012 and instead advise supervisors and principals to hold various fora and symposia in their respective schools promoting tax consciousness among school children, parents and teachers.
3. We appeal to the individual and collective members of the Provincial Board of the Province of Surigao del Norte not to consider to enact further new laws or ordinances which call for the collection of new forms of taxes, since the crux of our taxation problem is all about serious, strict and diligent tax collections.
As shepherds and pastors of our people, we feel the hardships that our people continue to experience brought about by the continuing economic crisis besetting our country today. We do not want to compound and aggravate their situation by these illegal, uncalled for and immoral orders. Moreover, we do not want that their basic constitutional rights are simply disregarded to give way to the desire to raise more taxes/revenues in the pretext of delivering more services and benefits to the public. We know, after all, that our government is not bereft of taxes in many forms; it is plague by inefficient tax-collection system and by corruption.
We hereby affix our signatures over our individual names to vouch the seriousness of our intent and the veracity of our position [Signed by the Bishop and 23 Clergy of the Diocese of Surigao, Iglesia Filipina Independiente].