First plunder complaint vs Arroyo filed

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2010 07:57 PM | Updated as of Aug 18 2010 08:54 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A plunder complaint was filed on Tuesday against former President Gloria Arroyo for failing to remit to government coffers tax collected from the sale of the old Iloilo airport.

The government sold the 54.5-hectare airport in Mandurriao, Iloilo to property giant Megaworld Corp. for P1.2 billion in 2007.

In the complaint filed before the Department of Justice, Danilo Lihaylihay, president of Philippine Association of Revenue Informers Inc. and chief investigator of Vanguard Anti-graft Task Force Inc. (VAGTFI), said the administration of Arroyo paid to the Treasury the P18 million documentary stamp tax on the sale, but did not remit the P72 million capital gains tax it collected.

It is the first plunder complaint filed against Arroyo after she stepped down from the presidency last June 30.

VAGTFI, which is accredited by the Office of the Ombudsman, was organized mainly to help the state address graft and corruption in the revenue service.

Also accused of plunder were former Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo, former Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, former chairman of the DOF Privatization Council Johnn Sevilla, and Megaworld chairman Andrew Tan.

"The non-payment of P72 million taxes to national government is a theft of public funds and a crime of plunder through malversation or raids on the public treasury pursuant to Section 1(1) of Republic Act 7080 or Anti-plunder Law," Lihaylihay's complaint states.

Lihaylihay also questioned the sale of the Iloilo airport to Megaworld, saying the law bans private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of public domain. Thus, he said the transaction was "highly illegal and unconstitutional."

Megaworld, one of the country's leading property developers, was planning to transform the Iloilo airport into a business district.

It said it would build educational facilities and office buildings catering to the business process outsourcing industry on the property.