MANILA, Philippines - Boxing champ and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao is considering filing a case against Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) regional director Rozil Lozares for "causing undue injury" to his reputation.
In an interview on radio dzMM, Pacquiao's lawyer Abraham Espejo said Pacquiao's reputation has been hurt by the tax case filed by the BIR. He claimed the boxing champ has lost several endorsement deals in the United States as a result.
"Ito masaklap. Dahil ho sa kaso na ito, marami hong endorsements ang nawala kay Pacquiao. Sa America, di ho kayo kukunin na endorser kung may kaso kayo na ganyan. Ito ho ang substantial income na nawala kay Pacquiao, yun endorsements... Hindi lang yun, yun kahihiyan niya, sinasabi na pareho na daw sila ni Mayweather na pareho na sila makukulong... Masakit ho yan kay congressman," Espejo said.
The BIR filed charges against Pacquiao early March after the boxer allegedly snubbed the agency’s summons to submit certain documents. Pacquiao was charged with violation of Section 266 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC), and if convicted, he can be fined as much as P10,000 and imprisoned for two years.
Espejo claimed the BIR "railroaded the case without due process," which is why they are thinking of filing a case against the regional director.
"Pinag-iisipan ho namin na kasuhan ang regional director, violation of Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act... which is causing undue injury, malaki na ho ang perwisyo niya. Nagmula ang perwisyo niya sa mga pinaggagawa ng regional director," he said.
The lawyer noted that the BIR may have unfairly focused on Pacquiao, who he said was the BIR's biggest individual taxpayer, paying more taxes than one of the country's richest men - Lucio Tan.
"Taon-taon (nagbabayad siya), pero nung November, napagtripan siya ng regional director. Niloloko nga namin si Manny,sabi namin, baka di niyo binigyan ng ticket, baka gusto sumama sa inyo as mga laban niyo abroad. Tawa siya, di daw niya alam bakit siya pinag-tritripan ng regional director," Espejo said.
BIR denies 'harassment'
However, BIR regional director for Region 12 Lozares denied the allegations made by Pacquiao's lawyer.
"Hindi po namin siya hinaharass. That is an unfair statement from Rep. Pacquiao. Wala po kaming intensyon na ganun. Ginawa lang po namin ang nararapat sa ilalamin ng batas," he said, in an interview on dzMM.
With Pacquiao's lawyer threatening to file a case against him, Lozares said it is part of the risk that comes with his job. "Ipinapatupad lang po namin ang batas. Sa pagpapatupad ng batas, ang lahat po ay dapat pantay-pantay," he said.
Lozares maintained it is within the BIR's power to issue a summons to any taxpayer and compel them to submit documents and records.
"This is a normal process na inaassess namin kung talagang tama ang kanyang binayarang buwis in a given year... It is the inherent power of the BIR to issue a summons and to compel them to produce the documents and records, yun po ang hinihingi namin," he said.
One of the documents the BIR requested from Pacquiao is the tax credit certificate that would show he already paid taxes in the U.S.
"Di po namin maintindihan kung bakit ayaw nila ibigay yun resibo na nagbayad sila ng buwis sa America... Wala po kami basehan na i-allow ang deductions if wala talagang proof," Lozares said.
The BIR also Pacquiao to provide copies of his endorsement contracts and fight contracts, but to no avail.
"Hihihingi namin ang documents so we can arrive at a fair and true assessment of any tax liability that he may have incurred... Yung mga product endorsement, he had 29 product endorsements as per our records, ayaw nila magbigay. Ilang beses na kami naghaharap, ayaw ibigay," Lozares said.
While Pacquiao is still the biggest individual taxpayer in Region 12, Lozares said the question is not whether he pays the biggest amount of taxes, but whether it is the right amount of taxes. He said there has been a noticeable decline in income tax that Pacquiao paid in 2010, but he declined to divulge exactly how much Pacquiao paid in income taxes.
In response to Pacquiao's claim that the BIR sent the summons to a wrong address in General Santos City, Lozares said they only used the address given by the congressman in his income tax return.
He also noted that Pacquiao's lawyer and accountant went to the BIR to discuss the case and ask for an extension of the deadline for providing the documents. He said this was contrary to Pacquiao's claims he did not receive the documents.
"Inconsistent... kung di natanggap, bakit nag-appear ang lawyer," Lozares asked.