ANGELES CITY – With a self-imposed mission to change this city’s image from “Sin City” to the country’s culinary capital, Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan has announced a hike in the local real estate taxes to P2,500 per square meter to raise funds for projects he wants done.
In a press briefing here, Pamintuan noted that the current real estate rate of P500 per square meter was imposed way back in 1995 when was also mayor. This, despite a law authorizing local government units to increase such taxes at certain intervals, he noted.
The P2,500 now planned is even lower than the local chamber of commerce and industry’s P4,000 per square meter estimated value of local real estate in its report solicited by the Bureau of Internal Revenue,” he noted.
Public hearings on the real estate tax hike is now being done, he added, stressing that such tax increase could yield as much as P2 billion for local projects by next year.
This, as Pamintuan bared an ambitious plan to finally uproot this city’s reputation as “Sin City,” a moniker it earned during the time of the US Air Force Base at Clark Field, now a freeport. US military presence here built up so-called red light districts that lured women from various parts of the country to serve the “rest and recreation” interests of the American soldiers.
When the US military finally left Clark in 1991, the red light districts survived and even flourished. Pamintuan bared plans to physically transform this city to attract more tourists by putting ugly “spaghetti” telecom and electric wirings from posts to an underground system.
He also said full blast work will start next week on the so-called Plaza Angel project which will transform some 3,000 square meters of roads, open spaces and even portions of the Sapang Balen creek near the Sto. Rosario parish church into a park and “hawkers’ paradise” where street food vendors will find legitimacy with uniformed carts.
“The creek will be covered with concrete platforms where grass will be planted over. The road towards the church would be tiled reserved only for promenaders during weekends,” Pamintuan said.
He said this project would be funded by the private sector under the Public-Private Partnership scheme.
But Pamintuan said that many other projects, mostly tourism related, will be implemented in major parts of the city which abounds with American, European and Asian tourists all year round. “This is part of our efforts to change the image of Angeles and make it known as the country’s culinary capital,” he said.
He said this vision inspired Bases Conversion Development Authority Chairman Rolando Gosiengfiao who toured parts of this city to find restaurants specializing in foods of various countries and run by foreign chefs.
Pamintuan said local restaurants number over a thousand, mostly within walking distance of each other. “These restaurants, apart from other attractions such as golf courses in the city, could fi nally make Angeles a destination for families,” he added.
The mayor also noted the need for an efficient landfill for local garbage. At present, the city government spends about P100 million yearly for the disposal of its wastes in a German-technology landfi ll in Barangay Kalangitan in Capas, Tarlac.