Backlog in tax evasion cases stokes corruption claims

by Ces Orena Dilon, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2013 11:53 PM | Updated as of Aug 03 2013 07:53 AM

MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) blames the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for the backlog in tax evasion cases.

Tax evasion cases in the first half of the Aquino administration's Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) program have reached 179, surpassing the 144 filed in the 9 years of the Arroyo administration.

But based on the inventory of the BIR, there is a backlog of cases submitted for resolution at the DOJ, reaching 93.

Under the process, the DOJ can junk a case before it can reach the tax court.

The delay has given rise to corruption allegations.

One of the tax cases pending before the DOJ involves Andal Ampatuan Jr.'s lawyer, Arnel Manaloto, which was filed in November 2012.

The case stems from Manaloto's P20 million purchase of 8 properties belonging to the Ampatuan clan in 2011, two weeks before the Court of Appeals issued a freeze order on the family's properties.

The supposed sale was made when Manaloto's declared income that year was only P1.5 million.

The DOJ has yet to release its resolution on the case.

However, ABS-CBN News learned that on July 23, Manaloto had a thanksgiving mass at the Mount Carmel church in Angeles City because he won the case.

A high-ranking source at the DOJ confirmed the dismissal of the case at the prosecutorial level, but said the decision was still up for automatic review and was not final.

Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan said if a leak is proven to have been made from the DOJ, the personnel can face administrative and criminal charges.

Another case still pending at the DOJ involves Saga casting and production, with a tax liability of P36.7 million filed in December 2010 and submitted for resolution in March 2011.

The DOJ and the BIR don't agree on the reasons for the delay.

The figures of the BIR and DOJ of cases filed in court don't tally either. - ANC