Groups to BIR: Collect P203-B Marcos tax now
Survivors of the martial rule of dictator Ferdinand Marcos warned that if the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) would be unable to collect the P203-billion estate tax from his family before the May 9 elections, the money would be good as gone if his son and namesake wins as the country’s next president.
In a letter they hand-delivered to the office of BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay on Friday, members of Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (Carmma) pressed for the “immediate collection” of the unpaid tax.
The estate tax is imposed on the transfer of the properties of a person who has died to his lawful heirs and beneficiaries. By law, it must be filed within one year from the person’s death.
Marcos died in exile in Hawaii in 1989, three years after he and his family and close associates were driven out of Malacañang by the Edsa People Power Revolution.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) estimated that the Marcoses amassed up to $10 billion in ill-gotten wealth during the two-decade Marcos presidency, including 14 years during which he ruled by decree after imposing nationwide martial law and shutting down Congress in 1972.
‘A lot of fake news’
Carmma denounced the Marcos family for its “seemingly deliberate attempt to evade or delay the payment” of the tax.
They said the PCGG had confirmed that the BIR already made its final assessment of the amount of the estate tax in 1993 and that the Supreme Court made its final decision on it in 1997.
“There is no reason for the Marcoses not to comply with this decision,” said Carmma’s letter, which was signed by 11 members, including Joanna Cariño, Judy Taguiwalo and Satur Ocampo.
Marcos’ widow, Imelda Marcos, and his son and presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., are the estate’s coadministrators.
In remarks he made during a press forum on March 16, Marcos Jr. made no commitment to pay the tax.
He said there were “a lot of fake news involved” in their alleged ill-gotten wealth.
“Let’s leave it to the lawyers to discuss it because the so-called facts that they quote are not facts at all,” he said.
In a recent campaign rally, he ignored reporters’ questions on whether his family would pay the tax.
The unpaid estate tax, Carmma said, could have been used to benefit the majority of Filipinos who had been greatly affected by the pandemic and the skyrocketing prices of fuel and basic commodities.
“Taxes are the lifeblood of any government in order to provide the necessary public services to the population,” they said in their letter. “The Marcoses continue to circumvent the law to evade the payment of their obligations and the ill-gotten wealth their family amassed from the nation’s coffers.”
‘Good as forgotten’
Carmma members and those from the human rights group Karapatan, Anakpawis and Kabataan, later picketed the BIR’s main office in Quezon City.
One of them, former labor organizer Danilo dela Fuente said he feared a Marcos election victory would mean that the more than P203 billion would be forgotten.
Dela Fuente, 73, was arrested in 1982 on charges of violating the antisubversion law, which was repealed in the 1990s. He was released from detention just days after the Edsa revolution.
“One possible scenario we are seeing, if Bongbong wins, it will just be good as forgotten and they will be immune from any charges,” he told the Inquirer in an interview.
“What we are asking here is for the government to act on this matter and there should have been a criminal liability already. They should have been arrested by now,” he said.
The call for the Marcoses to pay the tax has was backed by more 20,000 Filipino taxpayers who have signed an online petition demanding that the BIR collect the tax now.
Launched by civil society group Alliance of Women for Action Towards Reform (AWARE), the petition was, like the Carmma letter, addressed to Dulay. The number of signatories on Friday had exceeded the group’s original target of 15,000.
It urged the BIR to “show political will” by filing a criminal case against Marcos Jr. for his failure to pay the tax liability as estate administrator.
“The Filipino people are suffering great deprivation at this time, when fuel prices have skyrocketed and the cost of transportation, food and basic goods and services has increased tremendously,” it said. “Think about what P203.819 billion from the Marcoses can do to help the Filipinos who are struggling to keep body and soul together!”
The BIR had earlier confirmed to Aksyon Demokratiko party’s chair, Ernest Ramel, that it had sent a written demand on the Marcos family in December 2021 to pay their estate tax liability. Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso is the party’s standard bearer for the presidential elections.
“This is not the time to just send demand letters to a family that has flouted the law for 25 years,” the petition said. “Now is the time for the BIR to act decisively and file a criminal case and prosecute Bongbong Marcos, as coadministrator of the Marcos estate, for failure to settle the family’s tax liability.” WITH A REPORT FROM ARIANNE SUAREZ OF INQUIRER RESEARCH
Marcos explains refusal to debate
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.