Pacquiao leaves talking on tax issue to lawyer
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines—Boxing champ and Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao would rather keep his silence these days about the P2.2 billion tax deficiency case he is facing.
“I will no longer issue any statement,” he said Friday.
Pacquiao, who spoke to reporters on the eve of his eight-town relief caravan to Leyte and Samar, said has designated his lawyer to take questions related to the case filed against him by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
“Starting today, my legal counsel, Attorney Tranquilino Salvador III, will be the one to answer any questions from the media,” he said.
In leaving his lawyer to answer media queries on the tax case, Pacquiao said he wanted to focus on the relief operation, which he launched Saturday for the victims of Supertyphoon Yolanda.
Pacquiao said the convoy of trucks bearing the relief goods left the city Friday evening. He was to fly to the typhoon-ravaged areas aboard a private plane on Saturday.
Aside from the P2.2-billion tax case, Pacquiao also faces a criminal complaint over his alleged non-payment of correct taxes, which was filed by the BIR’s Central Mindanao office in the Koronadal City Prosecutor’s Office.
The BIR regional office initially lost in the case, in which Pacquiao was accused of failure to submit his 2010 tax documents despite having been served several summonses, but it has filed an appeal.
Pacquiao was specifically charged with violation of Section 266 of the National Internal Revenue Code, which prescribes the penalties for any person who would neglect summonses “to appear, to testify, or to appear and produce books of accounts, records, memoranda or other papers, or to furnish information as required under the pertinent provisions of this Code.”
Under this provision, violators, upon conviction, may be punished with a fine of not less than P5,000 but not more than P10,000 and imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than two years.
The BIR clarified it has not accused Pacquiao of tax evasion but only of non-submission of tax documents as required by the law.
In an eight-page resolution on October 12, 2012, Arnold D. Cruz, deputy city prosecutor and officer in charge of the City Prosecutor’s Office in Koronadal City, dismissed the case versus Pacquiao.
Cruz cited as primary basis in dismissing the case the failure of BIR regional office to personally serve the summons on Pacquiao.
“It would be absurd to hold the respondent liable for neglecting to obey a subpoena which he did not receive at all, in the first place,” the resolution said.
Cruz added there was no refusal on the part of Pacquiao to receive the summons, hence, resorting to substituted service was irregular and ineffectual.
In the BIR’s motion for reconsideration filed in the later part of October last year, Eric Diesto, revenue legal division chief, assailed the prosecutor’s resolution for its failure to appreciate probable cause for violation of Sec. 266 of the revenue code.
Diesto explained in his motion for reconsideration that the BIR revenue officer failed to personally serve the subpoena on Pacquiao because he was hard to find. In addition, he claimed, the revenue officer was not allowed to enter the Pacquiao mansion at the time, and that all matters regarding BIR transactions were being handled by the boxer’s accountants.
The subpoena was served twice but Pacquiao was not around then and had left for Manila with no information as to when he would be back, Diesto said.
Diesto said Pacquiao sent in February four representatives – lawyers Francisco Gacal and Rommel Agan and accountants Emma Cequina and Richard Querido, in an attempt to settle his problem with the BIR.
He said the prosecutor did not consider the presence of probable cause, but instead based his decision on the perceived defect in the service of the subpoena duces tecum.
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