MANILA — Sen. Imee Marcos on Friday questioned the timing of the estate tax debt of her family, saying those bringing up the P203-billion liability were part of efforts to discredit them ahead of the May elections.
The lawmaker, whose brother Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is running for president, said the issue had not been discussed for many years.
"Ang akin lang, ang dami-daming taon, bakit bigla ngayon lumabas? Parang talagang paninira naman yata ito ng bulok na politika," Sen. Marcos told TeleRadyo.
"Inuungkat 'to at saka sa totoo lang, wa epek na e dahil masyadong sawang-sawa na 'yung tao. Hindi naman tumatalab na," she continued.
(So many years have passed, why did it suddenly surface now? This appears to be defamation from rotten politics. It is being rehashed, but in truth, it doesn't have much effect because the people are fed up. It no longer has bearing.)
The senator, who previously evaded the question on her family's tax dues, also dubbed the issue as "bulok na taktika" or dirty tactic.
BIR PAYMENT DEMAND
Marcos Jr's spokesman, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, claimed last week that the tax case was still being litigated. But a Supreme Court ruling showed that the Marcoses' estate tax assessment of P23 billion was "final and executory".
That liability has ballooned to P203 billion due to penalties and interests.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue in a written demand has asked the Marcos family to settle their tax debt.
But in the TeleRadyo interview, Sen. Marcos claimed her brother and mother, Imelda, had no copies of the demand.
The presidential candidate and Imelda are co-administrators of the estate left by their patriarch, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
"Wala kasing kopya na buo 'yung nanay ko. Hinihingi nga 'yung buong dokumento para upuan na once and for all kasi nakailang beses na rin kami na nakikisuyo sa kanlia na upuan na natin at sumahin ng total," Sen. Marcos said.
(My mother has no full copy. We are asking for the full document to discuss it once and for all because we have asked them several times to sit down and compute the total.)
TO PAY OR NOT TO PAY
Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned that the government could no longer collect the estate taxes if Marcos Jr. wins the presidency in the upcoming elections.
"The president has supervision and control over the entire executive department. Control means he can reverse their decision. He can preempt and make the decision himself," Carpio said.
If the Marcoses were ordinary citizens, he said the BIR would have frozen their bank accounts, levied all their properties, and sued them for willful refusal to pay taxes.
In a taped speech on Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte also questioned why the BIR had yet to collect a certain estate tax debt, which he did not specify.
Sen. Marcos said her family would not ditch their liability.
"Medyo hilo na kami sa tax-tax issue na 'yan pero ang masasabi ko, kung may utang sa gobyerno, kailangan bayaran," she said.
"Kami sa pamilya namin, lahat ng kaso namin, hinarap namin. Hinaharap pa rin dahil marami pa no at itong issue na estate tax, matagal na to e."
(We are a bit dizzy with that tax-tax issue, but all I can say is if there is a debt to the government, that should be paid. Our family faced all the cases against us. We are still facing these because there are a lot and this issue on estate tax has been prolonged.)
Marcos Jr's eldest son, Sandro, is running for congressman of Ilocos Norte's first district.
Sen. Marcos' son, Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc, is seeking reelection. Another relative, Vice Governor Cecile Araneta-Marcos, is also seeking to retain her post.