Corona faces tax case filed by BIRCebu Daily News
MANILA— The taxman will not stop at ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona. Malacañang said yesterday that the filing of tax evasion case against Corona was proof of President Aquino’s sincerity in going after tax evaders.
“This is not something extraordinary. It just so happened that the personality involved is the former Chief Justice. But like we said, every other week the BIR files a tax evasion case against personalities,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
He expressed confidence that BIR Commissioner Kim Henares had the goods to pin down Corona, after the BIR found that Corona failed to pay P120.5 million in taxes for the nine-year period.
In Cebu, Regional Trial Court Judge Meinrado Paredes welcomed the BIR’s move to file tax evasion charges against Corona.
Paredes said Corona is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“If a private person, who is not a lawyer who fails to pay taxes, will be held liable, there is no reason why a person who knows the law should be exempt from liability. There should be no sacred cows,” Paredes said.
Earl Bonachita, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippine Cebu City chapter, said filing the case against the Corona is within the right of the state as long as due process was made.
Lacierda belied insinuations that the filing of the case was timed with the appointment of new Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, whose appointment to an 18-year-term as Supreme Court chief drew questions on her qualifications.
He recalled being told by Henares that cases would be filed as soon as all evidence had been collated.
Lacierda said Corona’s bank waiver, which had been brought out at the last minute at the impeachment court to turn the tide in his favor, actually did him in.
The waiver removed the legal protection afforded to depositor by the Bank Secrecy Law, compelling banks to supply BIR with “sufficient evidence” to warrant the filing.
“Henares (said) that the (pieces of) evidence were gathered based on the waiver issued by former Chief Justice Corona, and the (waiver of non-disclosure) in his SALN (Statement of assets, liabilities and networth) submitted to the Senate. So, based on that, they decided to file a tax evasion case,”said Lacierda.
The Palace also rejected any grant of amnesty to Corona and other large taxpayers.
According to Lacierda, the position of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Henares is to pursue cases against tax evaders to be able to strengthen the tax administration system in the country.
Lacierda acknowledged that Corona might have belatedly revoked the waiver for his bank deposits—peso and dollar—but only Banco de Oro invoked this, after Corona’s lawyer wrote a letter to the bank.
This is now the subject of a case for declaratory relief filed before the Makati regional trial court.
“In this case, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue Kim Henares is confident they have sufficient evidence to support the tax evasion charge against the personalities involved,” the Palace spokesperson said. Inquirer with a story from Reporter Ador Vincent Mayol