Pacquiao eyes suit vs BIR execs for harassment

- Mike Frialde -

MANILA, Philippines - Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao yesterday hit the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for filing what he said was a “harassment case” against him in connection with his alleged refusal to submit documents involving his business interests and income sources that were earlier summoned by the tax collection agency.

Speaking to reporters in Makati City, Pacquiao also dismissed reports that what the BIR had filed against him was neither tax evasion nor tax fraud, but simply for his alleged refusal to submit documents summoned by the BIR.

“The case against me is plain and simple harassment. Contrary to public perception, I am not charged with tax evasion or tax fraud. That is farthest from the truth. Over the years as a boxer, a product endorser and a businessman, I have not surcharged the government for what it is due. Hence, it is with a heavy heart to hear that I was charged with tax evasion or tax fraud. It was even reported in international media that I shall follow Mayweather soon in jail. I don’t have that intention. I would rather see him inside the ring,” he said, referring to the much awaited fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. who also had some legal issues.

The Filipino boxing icon said that the case the BIR filed against him refers to a violation of Section 266 of the National Internal Revenue Code for alleged failure or refusal to submit more than 62 documents required by the BIR.

Under Section 266 (Failure to Obey Summons), any person who fails to appear to testify, or to appear and produce books of accounts, records, memoranda or other papers, or to furnish information as required by the BIR, could pay a fine of not more than P10,000 and face a prison term of not more than two years.

Pacquiao added that the case filed by the BIR against him was baseless, as he did not personally receive the agency’s letter of authority and the subsequent subpoena.

He said the BIR even violated its own rules when it served the subpoena not on him but on another person not known to him.

He also questioned why the BIR served the subpoena in General Santos City when he is now a resident of Sarangani.

Lawyer Rozil Lozares, BIR Revenue Region 18 director, said they filed charges against Pacquiao last March 1 before the Prosecutor’s Office in Koronadal City in connection with their ongoing investigation into the representative’s tax payments in 2010 based on the income tax returns he filed.

“The BIR said that the case against me is not harassment but the letter (of authority) was sent when I was fighting with Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas, Nevada. I do not know why the BIR is singling me out,” Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao fights back

“The BIR in one instance has tarnished my name by filing a criminal case against me. They value taxes more than the rights of people. Don’t tarnish the names of big taxpayers,” he said.

Pacquiao said he had complied with the BIR’s summons and sent his accountant to Lozares’ office.

However, he said, it was Lozares who was not in his office at the date specified for the submission of the documents.

Pacquiao’s lawyers led by former justice secretary Artemio Toquero said they would question the BIR’s authority to gather evidence against taxpayers.

“We intend to question the validity of the National Internal Revenue Code which gives the BIR authority to gather evidence,” Toquero said.

He said they will contest the validity of the subpoena and will ask the Supreme Court to declare it null and void.

“The subpoena and the letter (of authority) is illegal, the case filed is null and void. We will contest that in the SC,” he said.

Pacquiao hinted that his lawyers would be filing a case of violation of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) against Lozares and other BIR executives.

His lawyer Abraham Espejo, also dean of the New Era College of Law, explained that BIR executives behind the case filed against the boxing champ are liable for causing undue injury to the boxing champ following the pullout of several product endorsements.











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