Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos and the First Family ascending the main Palace staircase on the day of his 1969 inaugural. — MALACANANG.GOV.PH

THE PHILIPPINE government in December asked the heirs of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos to pay billions of pesos in estate and income taxes from the 1980s, according to the nation’s tax agency.

“The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) did send a written demand letter to the Marcos heirs on Dec. 2, 2021 regarding their tax liabilities,” Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay said in a letter to Aksyon Demokratiko party on March 14.

Aksyon Demokratiko Chairman Ernesto M. Ramel, Jr. inquired and asked the BIR this month whether it had demanded payment from the Marcoses of their tax deficiencies, including estate and income taxes. The party gave reporters a copy of the BIR reply on Wednesday.

Aksyon Demokratiko is the political party of Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” M. Domagoso, who is running against Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. in this year’s presidential race.

BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel SD. Guballa did not immediately reply to a text message asking for a copy of the BIR demand letter.

Mr. Ramel also sought clarification from the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) on March 9 whether the government had reached a deal on the taxes.

If there was indeed a deal, PCGG must disclose the details because these are a “matter of public interest,” he said. “If your answer is ‘No,’ then this is another proof that the camp of Marcos, Jr. has again lied as they always do in so many issues about their family, including their ill-gotten wealth.”

He earlier said the Marcos family’s refusal to settle the taxes is a clear demonstration of “abuse of power, disregard for the laws enforced by the government and lack of respect for citizens who religiously pay the taxes imposed on them.”

Marcos lawyer and spokesman Victor D. Rodriguez did not immediately reply to a text message seeking comment.

He earlier said the pieces of property subject to the tax were still under litigation. He also said PCGG and BIR had agreed to wait for a decision on the case before collections were enforced.

“This is a very good asset, this is a huge amount of money that can be used for cash aid for the people,” Mr. Domagoso said in a video streamed live on Facebook.

PCGG, the agency created in the 1980s to recover ill-gotten wealth of the dictator and his cronies, on March 11 said there was a “verbal understanding” between it and BIR to collect estate taxes on all Marcos assets except those that had been seized by the government, as well as Swiss funds in escrow.

“It may not be accurate to state that the said agreement was ‘to determine with accuracy the fair and just tax base to be used in computing estate taxes, if any’ because as early as 1993, BIR already executed its final assessment when it levied and sold 11 real properties in Tacloban City,” it said in reply to Mr. Ramel’s inquiries.

PCGG said BIR in 1991 assessed the estate of Ferdinand Marcos P23.29 billion in estate taxes, P184.16 million in unpaid income taxes of Mr. Marcos and his wife Imelda for 1985 and 1986 and P20,410 in unpaid income taxes against the dictator for 1982 to 1985.

In 1993, BIR levied and auctioned off 11 Marcos properties in Tacloban after the family failed to file an administrative protest. The lots were awarded to the state in the absence of bidders, PCGG said.

The Supreme Court in 1997 denied a plea by Marcos, Jr. to void the levies as it ruled the tax assessments had become final and unappealable.

The P23-billion estate tax had ballooned to P203.8 billion due to interests and penalties after the Marcoses refused to pay it, Mr. Ramel said in a Viber message, citing computations by retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio T. Carpio in a Sept. 30, 2021 column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“Twenty-four years after the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals decision, the Marcos heirs still have not paid the estate tax,” Mr. Carpio said at that time.

The former magistrate has called the supposed agreement “wrong, a falsehood and laughable.” “There is no such thing,” he told GMA News last week, adding that the Supreme Court ruling on the case had become final.

The younger Mr. Marcos, who is leading in presidential opinion polls, was convicted in 1995 for failing to pay taxes from 1982 to 1985 when he was governor and vice governor of Ilocos Norte.

The dictator stole as much as $10 billion (P503 billion) from the Filipino people, according to government estimates, earning him a Guinness World Record for the “greatest robbery of a government.”

PCGG, created in 1987 to recover ill-gotten wealth of the family and their cronies, has recovered about P171 billion. — Norman P. Aquino and Jaspearl Emerald G. Tan

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