Enrile defends Bongbong on estate tax issue, urges critics to sue

Mico Abarro, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 05 2022 05:43 PM

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile during a meeting in Makati City. Courtesy of Vic Rodriguez
Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile during a meeting in Makati City. Courtesy of Vic Rodriguez

MANILA - Former senate president Juan Ponce Enrile on Tuesday urged critics to file charges against the heirs of strongman Ferdinand Marcos over the non-payment of billions in estate taxes.

The martial law stalwart also volunteered to defend presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos in any court, as he downplayed the P203-B estate tax issue hounding the Marcoses. 

“Walang issue. Kasuhan mo si Bongbong? Eh tatawanan ka. Mag-presenta sana ako na maging abogado niya at dalhin nila lahat ng magagaling na mga abogado dyan,” Enrile said in a statement released by Marcos' camp.

“Hindi naman ako nagyayabang, nag-practice ako ng law. Lahat ng klaseng trial na hinawakan ko na, nasa record ng Pilipinas yan. Wala pa akong natalong kaso."
(There is no issue. Sue Bongbong? You'll be laughed at. I could present myself as his lawyer in the case, and they can bring all the great lawyers here. Not to brag, but I practiced law. I've handled all sorts of cases; that's in the Philippines' record. I've never lost even once.) 

Enrile claimed the national government and the Bureau of Internal Revenue had yet to come up with a final, accurate, and comprehensive assessment of the Marcos estate's tax. 

“Kalokohan yan. Nasaan yung desisyon? Hindi pwedeng yung BIR mismo ang gagawa ng assessment ng valuation at ng asset. Eh siyempre kung BIR, iwanan mo sa BIR yun eh baka lalagpas sa 200 billion ‘yung basehan nila,” he said. 

(That's nonsense. Where is the decision? The BIR itself can't make an assessment of the valuation of an asset. If you left that job to the BIR, they might make an estimate that's more than P200 billion.)

The Marcos camp has also previously claimed that the tax debt was still pending in court. 

But on June 5, 1997, the Supreme Court denied Marcos' bid to challenge the BIR's assessment of the family's estate taxes and the levy of 11 parcels of their land as payment. The tax bureau estimated then that the Marcoses owed P23 billion in estate taxes to the government. 

According to a document by the high court, the ruling became final and executory on March 9, 1999. The estate tax liability has since ballooned to an estimated P203 billion because of added penalties and interest following decades of not being paid. 

If there was still an estate tax to be paid, Enrile then went on to say the government should not compel members of the Marcos family to pay, but instead go after the Marcos estate itself.

“Iyong estate tax, ‘estate’ tax nga eh, buwis ng estate at hindi buwis ni Bongbong. Hindi buwis ni Imelda. Hindi buwis ni Imee or ni Irene. Buwis ng estate ni Presidente Marcos,” he added.

(The estate tax is levied upon an estate, not on Bongbong. It's not Imelda's tax, nor is it Imee or Irene's. This is a tax on President [Ferdinand] Marcos' estate.) 

But former Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Imelda and Bongbong Marcos, as co-administrators of the Marcos estate, are primarily liable, and that Marcos heirs are also subsidiarily liable in proportion to their shares.

"Clearly, the Tax Code and its implementing regulations impose upon the co-administrators of the Marcos Estate the primary obligation to pay the estate tax, and the subsidiary obligation to pay the estate tax falls on all the heirs in proportion to their distributive share in the estate," Carpio said in a statement Tuesday. 

- With reports from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News