Aquino impeachment sought over alleged `massive tax fraud’ caseBy Tetch Torres
MANILA, Philippines—The man who has accused former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of plunder now wants President Benigno Aquino III impeached over an alleged “massive tax fraud’’ case involving the sale of a government property in Baguio City.
Danilo Lihaylihay, president of the Philippine Association of Revenue Informers, Inc., disclosed his intention to have Aquino impeached in a letter dated Feb. 8, 2012, to House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez. Lihaylihay furnished INQUIRER.net with a copy of his letter to Suarez.
In his letter, Lihaylihay accused Aquino of committing “massive tax fraud” for the P500-million sale of the 3.4-hectare government property known as “Governor’s Park’’ located along Session Road in Baguio City.
He said the impeachment process against Aquino should be based on the affidavit-complaint he has filed with the Office of the Ombudsman and submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Based on the affidavit-complaint, Lihaylihay said Aquino, together with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje and SM Investments “committed massive tax evasion fraud and graft and corrupt practices through conspiracy and connivance” when they failed to remit to the government the taxes due resulting from the sale of the government property.
The sale, according to Lihaylihay, is also constitutionally infirm because SM Investment Corporation is constitutionally barred from acquiring any alienable lands of the public domain.
He added that the sale is disadvantageous to the government considering that as of 2011, the value price of the land was P1.9 billion.
“Thus, the sale or conveyance was grossly disadvantageous to the Government and the Filipino people and the Republic Act of the Philippines was defrauded and financially damaged with P1.4-billion in the aforesaid anomalous transaction.”
“Furthermore, the Chief Executive or President of the Republic of the Philippines cannot dispose, sale or convey any real property owned by the government without appropriate law or without legislative approval pursuant to Section 48 Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987,” Lihaylihay said.
Lihaylihay urged the Ombudsman to investigate Aquino, Ochoa, Paje and SM Investments for possible criminal violations “to protect the interest of the Filipino people.”
His letter to Suarez reads: “I am most respectfully requesting the minority to initiate the appropriate impeachment proceedings in Congress against his Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III for culpable violation of the Constitution, Graft and Corruption, high crimes (Plunder) and betrayal of public trust.”
He also asked BIR Commissioner Kim Henares to conduct an investigation on the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) of Aquino, Paje and Ochoa vis-à-vis their Income Tax Returns.
Lihaylihay has a pending plunder case against Arroyo, now a Pampanga Representative, for her alleged failure to remit the P72 million capital gains tax from the P1.8-billion sale of the old Iloilo City airport to property giant Megaworld. The plunder case has been filed with the Department of Justice.