Lawyer: Marcos settled tax, fines not in court but in BIR | Inquirer News

Lawyer: Marcos settled tax, fines not in court but in BIR

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:36 AM January 08, 2022
Bongbong Marcos

FILE Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. Illustration by Ed Lustan

A lawyer for former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. told the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday that the former senator did not settle his unpaid taxes and fines with the Quezon City court which convicted him in 1995 of tax evasion, an admission that could jeopardize his candidacy for president in the May 9 general elections.

Marcos Jr. is the standard bearer of the little-known Partido Federal ng Pilipinas party and his running mate is President Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

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At the preliminary hearing of three petitions questioning the candidacy of the son and namesake of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, lawyer Hanna Barcena claimed that the former senator “directly” paid his tax deficiencies to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) on Dec. 27, 2001.

Barcena, however, could not present the receipt issued by the BIR after Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, who presided over the proceedings, asked for proof of payment.

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Instead, Barcena cited the BIR’s certification on Dec. 9, 2021, which supposedly showed that her client had satisfied the order of Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 105 directing Marcos Jr. to pay the taxes due and the corresponding fines.

The lower court also sentenced him to up to nine years in prison for his failure to pay taxes and file his income tax returns from 1982 to 1985.

In 1997, the Court of Appeals upheld the Quezon City court’s decision, but saved Marcos from serving time in prison.

Jake Rey Fajardo, who represented the group of petitioners led by martial law survivor Bonifacio Ilagan, argued that Marcos Jr. was already barred from running for public office after he was found guilty of violating the National Internal Revenue Code.

Section 253 of the law states that a government official who violates the tax code would be “dismissed from the public service and perpetually disqualified from holding any public office, to vote and to participate in any election.”

Guanzon questioning

“What is your proof that he did not pay the fine [and unpaid taxes]?” Guanzon asked Fajardo.

The lawyer cited the Dec. 2, 2021, certification by the Quezon City RTC that Marcos Jr. had not satisfied its order to pay all his tax deficiencies and surcharges.

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Barcena said her client made the payment through the state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines, but she did not have a copy of the receipt from the BIR.

Antonio Salvador, counsel for another group of petitioners led by Akbayan party list, also raised the issue on Marcos Jr.’s compliance with his sentence.

Turning to Barcena, Guanzon asked: “Your client did not pay the fines with the court, do you admit?”

“Yes, your honor,” the lawyer replied. “The payment was made directly to the BIR. There was a payment made.”

“We have no evidence that the payment was made in court, but we have a certification from the BIR that the payment was made through the LandBank,” she added.

She said that they would look for the receipt in their records.

Guanzon directed her to submit copies of it as part of his documentary evidence.

‘Long battle for integrity’

Ilagan, spokesperson for Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (Carmma), said the hearing symbolized the “long battle for integrity and justice” to prevent a Marcosian comeback, 36 years after the Edsa People Power Revolution deposed the dictator.

Ilagan said Carmma, a coalition of martial law victims, would continue to “keep guard” and “fight tooth and nail, in the courts or in the streets, to resist a Marcos restoration and a Duterte extension.”

Allowing the dictator’s son to run despite his conviction in the tax case “would be a mockery not only of the elections but of our nation’s history, our democracy, and our hard-won rights and freedoms,” said Ilagan, who was heavily tortured after his arrest during martial law.

“The whole nation is watching. We trust that the Commission on Elections uphold truth, justice and integrity to safeguard the sanctity of the upcoming elections especially against those who seek to bastardize it,” he said.

Penalty, not a tax

Sought for comment, retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Marcos Jr. should have made the payment to the court.

“The fine should be paid to the court because it is a penalty for the crime, not a tax. The BIR has no authority to accept payment for the fine,” Carpio told the Inquirer.

“The deficiency income tax should be paid to the BIR upon order of the court. After payment to the BIR of the deficiency income tax, proof of payment must be submitted to the court,” he said.

Asked if the matter would have any legal implication, the former justice said: “Yes. It means that [Marcos Jr.] has not served his sentence per RTC official records.”

The preliminary conference was delayed for over an hour due to Marcos Jr.’s absence and his failure to attend even through videoconference.

“Why was it hard for [him] to go on video? He can do that on his phone,” Guanzon said, who sounded annoyed.

Barcena said that her client had been on quarantine after he had physical contact with two of his staff who tested positive for COVID-19.

The lawyer showed a copy of a medical certificate issued by Dr. Benedict Francis Valdecañas, an orthopedist, who said Marcos Jr. had a fever, body malaise and was having a hard time speaking “due to a painfully congested throat.” —WITH A REPORT FROM KRIXIA SUBINGSUBING

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TAGS: BIR, Comelec, Guanzon, Marcos Jr., QC court, Tax
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