Jeane Napoles tries to save plea vs P40-M tax anew
MANILA — The daughter of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles is not giving up on her protest against the P40.03-million tax assessment that served as basis for her separate tax evasion cases.
Jeane Catherine Napoles has asked the Court of Tax Appeals Second Division to hold a new trial on her petition for review. The court had thrown out the case on Feb. 16 after her lawyer Ian Encarnacion missed the pretrial conference that day.
Napoles, through Encarnacion, made a commitment that she would no longer cause any postponements just so the court would revive the petition questioning the liabilities imposed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
In a five-page motion for new trial dated May 5 and recently seen by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Encarnacion insisted that he did not intend to miss the 1:30 p.m. pretrial conference that day.
The lawyer said he “merely came in late” at 1:50 p.m. as the board meeting he attended in Makati City earlier that day ended at 12:45 p.m. He said he sent his representative Manny Galamgam to request a
second call since he would be late.
But, he said Galamgam mistakenly thought the hearing would be held by the Third Division, which has been tackling Napoles’ criminal charges. By the time the lawyer arrived, the Second Division had already dismissed Napoles’ tax petition.
The dismissal of the case comes without prejudice to the refiling of the petition. But, the lawyer invoked Section 1(a) of Rule 37 of the Rules of Court, allowing a new trial on the ground of “mistake or excusable negligence.”
He asked the court to hold a new trial instead, pointing out that refiling the case would “only begin the process again and the petitioner [Napoles] will again be placed in this predicament.”
“Prudence would instruct us that if only to settle the matter in an expeditious manner, it is respectfully requested for the Court to reverse its order… and continue with the case and allow the case to be decided not on the basis of technicalities but on its merits and substance, as law, justice and equity dictates,” the motion read.
This actually marks Napoles’ second attempt to save her petition from the dustbin.
Her camp earlier filed a motion for reconsideration on March 3 containing the same explanation about Galamgam’s self-confessed mistake. But the first appeal on the dismissal nonetheless included a request for the suspension of the proceedings.
Encarnacion said then that the Second Division should continue the case later, after the prosecution has rested its case at the Third Division. This was so Napoles’ evidence in her petition against the BIR would not be used against her at the tax evasion case.
This riled up the Second Division. In its April 10 resolution, it chided Napoles for actually seeking the revival of her case only to ask for its suspension and cause more delays.
“Instead of finding ways and means to compensate for the delays caused by her non-appearances and constant requests for postponements, petitioner now prays for the suspension the proceedings [sic],” read the resolution, adding that granting the plea would “obviously further delay” the case.
The resolution also said “verbal notifications made by advance parties or by so-called ‘representatives’ do not serve to replace the actual presence of counsels/parties to a scheduled hearing.”
The court added that it could not relax and apply liberality to the procedural rules in Napoles’ case, stressing that it would not “allow the petitioner to direct the course of proceedings… or to obstruct the order within which judicial business is to be conducted.”
Encarnacion’s May 5 pleading conceded the point about the postponements and said the court had “persuasively” discussed why it could not be excused, even as he stressed that he “knows the nature of the commitments he undertook to attend that day.”
Still, he promised “not to file any more postponements and… endeavor to complete this case with prompt and dispatch,” just so the court would set aside its Feb. 16 and April 10 orders.
Allowance, not income
Napoles’ petition at the Second Division argued that she could not be tried for tax evasion at the Third Division because the BIR’s income tax assessment for the years 2011 and 2012 was invalid to begin with.
The petition, docketed as CTA Case No. 9354 and filed May 19, 2016, reasoned out that as an overseas student holding an United States F-1 visa, she would not have been allowed to work and earn her own income.
Napoles said her posh $1.2-million condominium unit at Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles formed part of the allowances given by her parents.
“It is not uncommon for many Filipino parents to buy a property and place it under the name of their children, either by way of gift or under an express trust agreement,” the petition argued.
Napoles was cast into the limelight after her lavish lifestyle was publicized during the height of the controversy faced by her mother Janet Lim-Napoles, who allegedly facilitated the misuse of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund allocations through bogus non-government organizations. SFM
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