Ligot tax evasion case at DOJ nears resolution

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 16 2011 12:54 PM | Updated as of May 17 2011 01:01 AM

The tax evasion case against former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot and wife, Erlinda, nears resolution as the Department of Justice (DOJ) sets its last preliminary investigation hearing on May 27.

The couple and lawyers of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) attended today's hearing before Assistant State Prosecutor Steward Mariano.

The couple's lawyer, Atty. Rafael Zialcita, told ABS-CBN News he is optimistic the complaint against his clients will be dismissed because of the BIR's failure to present its evidence.

"The BIR for instance claimed Mr. Ligot had some P300 million in bank deposits but failed to show proof," Zialcita said.

While the Ligots are satisfied with the due process accorded them by the DOJ, Zialcita maintained the BIR violated his clients' right to due process when it did not give them ample time to explain before filing the complaint.

Clarificatory questions will be asked of the BIR and the Ligot couple in the next hearing after which the case will be deemed submitted for resolution, Mariano said.

The couple was charged for a combined tax deficiency amounting to P428,077,547 for taxable years 2001-2004; broken down as follows: Gen. Ligot:P290,241,919; and Erlinda Ligot: P137,835,627. The complaint said Ligot did not file his income tax returns (ITR) for taxable year 2001, while Erlinda Ligot failed to file her ITR for 2001-2004.

The complaint alleged the couple failed to declare income amounting to over P41-million in 2001; over P103-million in 2002; close to P166-million in 2003; and over P148-million in 2004.

But in a joint counter affidavit submitted last April 18, Gen. Ligot denied he willfully evaded taxes in 2001 because he filed his (ITR) through the Armed Forces of the Philippines, while Erlinda Ligot did not file her ITRs for taxable years 2001-2004 because she was "unemployed and if at all had income from other sources, these were minimal."

Aside from charges of tax evasion, the Ligot couple and their children, Paulo, Riza and Miguel are facing a P135-million forfeiture case at the Sandiganbayan. Gen. Ligot's sister, Miguel Ligot-Paragas, and brother-in-law Edgardo Yambao are also co-defendants in said case.

Gen. Ligot also faces plunder charges at the DOJ, filed by military slush fund controversy whistleblower George Rabusa.

Ligot has yet to submit his counter-affidavit on Rabusa's complaint, he said he has yet to receive a copy of the complaint.