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Henares to Pacquiao: Don't use BIR as excuse

MANILA, Philippines - Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Henares fired back at Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao who claimed that his bank deposits were frozen by the agency over a P2.2-billion tax case.

Henares said in an interview with ANC's Headstart on Wednesday that Pacquiao should not use the BIR as an excuse if he cannot use his own money to even help typhoon victims since his accounts have been allegedly frozen.

Pacquiao has claimed that he has borrowed money to help the victims of Super Typhoon "Yolanda" since he cannot access all his accounts, including his wife's, due to the garnishment warrant issued by the BIR two weeks ago in connection with his tax case.

Read: Pacquiao feels 'harassed' over freeze order, borrows money for 'Yolanda' survivors

But Henares reiterated that the warrant of garnishment on the boxer's assets involved only P1.1 million of his bank deposits.

“He’s making it appear that he cannot pay his staff’s salary, he cannot continue scholarships, he cannot give relief to the Yolanda victims because of us. But the only thing that we have of his money is P1.1 million. So how can he say that he cannot do all these things because we have all his money?” Henares said.

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"I don’t know where his other money is. If he cannot help people, if he cannot pay people, he should not make us his excuse,” Henares added.

In an interview over radio dzMM on Wednesday, lawyer Remegio Rojas, Pacquiao's legal counsel, said the boxing champion cannot withdraw his money from 22 banks due to the garnishment notice of the BIR.

"Once na may notice of garnishment na ipinadala ang BIR, 'yung mga bangko hindi na papayagang mag-withdraw ang sinumang account holder base doon sa notice," Rojas said in the radio interview.

But Henares said of the 22 banks her agency has ordered to report on Pacquiao's accounts, only two said they held deposits for the boxer which totaled to the P1.1 million the BIR now has.

Pacquiao's tax case stemmed from the supposed failure of his accountant to report in his income tax returns the millions of dollars in taxes that he paid in the US in relation to his fight purses from 2008 to 2009.

Two weeks before his comeback fight in Macau on Sunday, the BIR reportedly issued a warrant of garnishment which led to the freezing of Pacquiao's bank deposits.

Henares said the boxing icon's case would have been settled had he presented the required documents two or three years ago.

She said Pacquiao's camp has yet to submit the document from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the US, which states that he did pay his taxes.

The BIR chief said what they only received from Pacquiao's camp is a letter from Top Rank, the boxer's promoter, which said that taxes have been deducted from his earnings..

Henares said this letter won't suffice as an official proof since it can be made by anybody.

"That's a useless paper," she told ANC, "It does not prove that IRS has received this return and has received this money."

The former pound-for-pound king said the freezing of his bank assets is a form of harassment and hinted that politics was behind the tax case.

“I could not withdraw a single centavo of my own money, I could not use it to help. The money garnished by the BIR was not stolen, it’s not PDAF or DAP. These all came from the punches, beatings, sweat and blood that I endured in boxing," a STAR report quoted Pacquiao as saying.

“I was beaten up, earned money and the government took it. But those who steal… I have yet to see anybody who has stolen a lot and gotten the same garnishment,” he added.

Read: BIR to Pacman: Set an example

But Malacañang said Pacquiao was not being singled out and that harassment was not the government's agenda.

Henares, for her part, said in the radio interview that the BIR is not a political office and that they are only performing their mandate, which is to collect proper taxes. -with the Associated Press

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