Registered owner as taxpayer

In G.R. No. 160380, the main issue raised was whether or not the tax delinquency proceedings conducted on the subject parcel of land situated at Block 2, Lot 6, Alta Tierra Village, Jaro, Iloilo City was regular and legal.

Petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the tax delinquency proceedings was legal and with force and effect, since the requirements regarding the publication and notice of an auction sale under Section 73 of P.D. No. 464 were not complied with. The petition is without merit. The Supreme Court upheld the validity of the tax delinquency proceedings.

The pertinent provision of law in this case is Section 73 of P.D. No. 464, thus:
SEC. 73. Advertisement of sale of real property at public auction. - After the expiration of the year for which the tax is due, the provincial or city treasurer shall advertise the sale at public auction of the entire delinquent real property, except real property mentioned in subsection (a) of Section forty hereof, to satisfy all the taxes and penalties due and the costs of sale. Such advertisement shall be made by posting a notice for three consecutive weeks at the main entrance of the provincial building and of all municipal buildings in the province, or at the main entrance of the city or municipal hall in the case of cities, and in a public and conspicuous place in the barrio or district wherein the property is situated, in English, Spanish and the local dialect commonly used, and by announcement at least three market days at the market by crier, and, in the discretion of the provincial or city treasurer, by publication once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation published in the province or city. 
The notice, publication, and announcement by crier shall state the amount of the taxes, penalties and costs of sale; the date, hour, and place of sale; the name of the taxpayer against whom the tax was assessed; and the kind or nature of property and, if land, its approximate areas, lot number, and location stating the street and block number; district or barrio, municipality and the province or city where the property to be sold is situated. 
Copy of the notice shall forthwith be sent either by registered mail or by messenger, or through the barrio captain, to the delinquent taxpayer, at his address as shown in the tax rolls or property tax records cards of the municipality or city where the property is located, or at his residence, if known to said treasurer or barrio captain: Provided, however, that a return of the proof of service under oath shall be filed by the person making the service with the provincial or city treasurer concerned.
In Talusan v. Tayag, the Supreme Court held that for purposes of the collection of real property taxes, the registered owner of the property is considered the taxpayer. Hence, only the registered owner is entitled to a notice of tax delinquency and other proceedings relative to the tax sale.

In G.R. No. 160380, the Court of Appeals correctly held that the GSIS, as the registered owner of the subject property, was the taxpayer that was entitled to the notice of tax delinquency and that of the auction sale, as well as other related notices. It found that the GSIS was not deprived of its property without due process and that notice was regularly served. It pointed out that it had already upheld the validity of the assessment of the real property taxes upon GSIS and the auction sale proceedings in GSIS v. City Assessor of Iloilo City.
It is important to note that both the GSIS, as the registered owner of the subject property, and herein petitioners Spouses Montaño separately questioned the validity of the auction sale of the subject property covered by TCT No. T-41681.

The Court of Appeals mentioned in its Decision that there are two cases involving the same issue, namely, this action for declaration of nullity of sale and damages filed by the Spouses Montaño, and the petition for annulment of judgment filed by the GSIS, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 51149, entitled GSIS v. City Assessor of Iloilo City, the Register of Deeds of Iloilo City and Rosalina Francisco (GSIS v. City Assessor of Iloilo City).

In GSIS v. City Assessor of Iloilo City, the GSIS assailed the Order dated April 29, 1993 of the RTC of Iloilo City, Branch 36 and the Order dated November 8, 1994 of the RTC of Iloilo, Branch 31 in regard to the petition of herein respondent Rosalina Francisco for the entry of new transfer certificates of title in her name, which included TCT No. T-41681 covering the subject parcel of land in this case. The GSIS claimed that the assessment of real property taxes on the parcels of land was void because it was exempt from all forms of taxes under its charter, Republic Act No. 8291. The GSIS also claimed that it had no notice of the proceedings in the assessment and levy of the taxes, as well as the sale of the properties at public auction; hence, its right to due process was violated.

In GSIS v. City Assessor of Iloilo City, the Court of Appeals upheld the findings of the lower courts that notices were sent to GSIS and the beneficial owners of the properties in question. It gave no credence to the arguments of GSIS and denied its petition.

GSIS appealed the decision of the Court of Appeals before this Court via a petition for review on certiorari. In a Decision dated June 27, 2006 in G.R. No. 147192, the Supreme Court dismissed the GSIS’ petition for review on certiorari of the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 51149 dated August 8, 2000. Hence, the finding of the Court of Appeals in regard to the validity of the auction sale proceedings of the subject property has long been final.

THE CASE: SPOUSES EDUARDO and LETICIA MONTAÑO, Petitioners, vs. ROSALINA FRANCISCO, THE CITY GOVERNMENT OF ILOILO, ROMEO V. MANIKAN, City Treasurer of Iloilo City, and ERLINDA C. ZARANDIN, Head of the Treasurer's Enforcement Group, Respondents. G.R. No. 160380. July 30, 2009.