'Money can be collected': Group backs focus on Marcos' P203-B unpaid taxes

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 21 2022 01:23 PM | Updated as of Mar 21 2022 02:50 PM

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MANILA – Presidential candidate Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso’s move to raise the issue of the Marcos family’s P203 billion unpaid taxes in the latest presidential debate is a good political move, an analyst said Monday.

“I think that was a very good political message to send to the people, to drive home the point that there’s actually money that can be collected from the Marcoses and therefore used for the pandemic response,” said Institute for Leadership, Empowerment, and Democracy (iLEAD) executive director Zy-za Suzara.

“Because as you know, the government has been saying that we are short on cash to fund the subsidy programs that’s needed to fund the stimulus packages that the business sector, specially the small and medium enterprises, are asking for,” she added.

 

Aksyon Demokratiko earlier released a letter from the Bureau of Internal Revenue confirming that it sent the family of Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. a written demand to settle their estate tax liabilities.

"The BIR did send a written demand to the Marcos heirs on December 2, 2021 regarding their tax liabilities," BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay said in a letter that the Aksyon Demokratiko party posted on Facebook. 

Aksyon Demokratiko also posted a picture of another letter from the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), which said the BIR issued the following in 1991. 

- Deficiency estate tax assessment against the estate of Ferdinand Marcos in the amount of P23,293,607,638 
- Deficiency income tax assessments against Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos in the aggregate amount of P184,159,289.70 for the years 1985 to 1986
- Deficiency income tax assessment against Ferdinand Marcos Jr. "in the amount 1982 to 1985 in the aggregate amount of P20,410
These assessments became “final because Mrs. Marcos and the other heirs did not file an administrative protest within 30 days from receipt thereof,” the PCGG letter showed. 

“Hence, in February and May 1993, the BIR Commissioner levied 11 real properties in Tacloban City and which were sold in a public auction on 5 July 1993. As there was no bidder, the lots were awarded to the government,” it added. 

The PCGG said Marcos Jr. filed an appeal to annul and set aside the notices of levy and sale, which was dismissed by the Court of Appeals in 1994 “on the ground that the deficiency tax assessments and estate tax assessments were final and unappealable.” 

The Supreme Court affirmed this decision in 1997, the PCGG said in the letter. 

“The judgement became final and executory,” it said. 

SKIPPING THE DEBATE

For University of the Philippines (UP) political science professor Jean Franco, meanwhile, it was essential that someone mentioned presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos’ absence in the debates.

“Someone really has to present it in the debate because otherwise--because it’s like the elephant in the room, it’s the talk of the town, it was covered by the media extensively, and of course people need to know that Mr. Marcos is accountable for this and this has to be presented in a debate where he was not present,” she said.

“Because it is precisely the fact that, you know people are disappointed that he’s not attending debates because debates [are] one way also by which candidates can be [held] accountable with the things that they’ve done in the past and the polices that they are proposing to the people if they get elected,” she added.

The only son and namesake of the former dictator skipped the Commission on Elections (Comelec)-organized presidential debate on Saturday, opting instead to meet supporters in Marikina City.

Marcos said he believed that listening to supporters was the most effective way to bring his platform to the public. 

His camp has previously said that he will not join any presidential debate or forum if the aim of the events is to pit candidates against one another.

Job growth also needed for pandemic recovery, expert says

Suzara said the Comelec asked timely and relevant questions on post-pandemic economic recovery during the recent debate, noting that these are concerns that her group has been raising for a long time.

But when asked about the candidates’ answers, she stressed that government must also support the labor market in order to ensure a quick recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Presidential bets on Saturday underscored the Philippines' need to strengthen its agriculture sector and hike support for small businesses to hasten economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think those who responded that the labor market should be provided support, like VP Leni Robredo, made the really excellent response to that,” she said.

“Especially because in light of the pandemic a lot of people lost jobs, and even if unemployment eased in January that’s still equivalent to about 3 million Filipinos. Even an (Asian Development Bank) study said that the biggest impact of the pandemic on the Philippines is in the labor market due to the job reallocation, you know, the shifts in the labor sector,” she added.

Both Suzara and Franco said that candidates should now reach out to more people in the grassroots with less than 50 days to go before the elections.

“I think for those who need more numbers specially in the surveys, they have to focus on vote-rich areas especially (National Capital Region) and balance Luzon. Because this is where the bulk of voters come,” Franco added.

--ANC, 21 March 2022