Marcos no-show, but family's unpaid estate tax did not go missing in debates

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Marcos no-show, but family's unpaid estate tax did not go missing in debates
Empty podium on the Commission on Elections' stage for Presidential Debates at Sofitel. Presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. skipped the debates on March 19.
Philstar.com / Deejae Dumlao

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential candidates did not seem to mind the absence of fellow aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. at the Commission on Elections debates on Saturday. But there was one thing they were really interested in: the unpaid estate taxes of the Marcos’ family.

During the first Comelec presidential debates, candidates were asked what they learned during their campaign caravans which strengthened and informed their plans for the Filipino people.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said he learned how Metro Manila got a huge chunk of development that should be shifted to provinces.

Norberto Gonzales, Faisal Mangondato and Jose Montemayor Jr. pointed out flaws in the governance system with some introducing change in political system.

But a majority of the aspirants all stressed that the Filipino people’s poverty reinforced their programs if they get elected.

READ: LIVE: Comelec's Presidential Debates 2022

Estate tax

But where can they get funds to give “ayuda” or aid that the public needs?

Aspirants suggested: How about the P203 billion estate taxes pending from a certain family?

Moreno said in Filipino: “On where we can get aid to give to farmers because the price of fertilizers are rising, there is one family that has pending P203 billion estate tax.”

He vowed that if he wins, he will demand for its payment so farmers and drivers can receive the cash aid they need.

Although he did not name which family he was referring to, Moreno’s Aksyon Demokratiko has recently received confirmation from the Bureau of Internal Revenue that they sent “a written demand to the Marcos heirs on Dec. 2, 2021, regarding their tax liabilities.”

Marcos, the survey frontrunner, skipped the presidential debates on Saturday and opted to join a campaign caravan in Marikina City. His team insisted that they prefer to “direct communication with the people and engage them in a more personal face-to-face interaction.”

Sen. Panfilo Lacson also pointed out that at the Congress, they too passed tax packages but they only came up with P101 billion. “There is P203 billion that should be collected. Why is the BIR not demanding it?” he added in Filipino.

Vice President Leni Robredo also pointed out that there are differing views on whether excise tax should be suspended amid skyrocketing prices of gas because the government lacks funds.

So far, the administration said they plan to provide a P200 monthly subsidy to bottom 50% of Filipino households as the country is hit by rising commodity prices — cash aid that, Robredo pointed out, is too measly.

“If we collect this (P203 billion), we do not need to skimp on our countrymen,” she added.

In a chance interview after the debate, Robredo added that this shows how unqualified Marcos is for presidency. “Can you imagine somebody aspiring to be president who owes that much to the government? That should not be the case,” she added in Filipino.

Marcos cries ‘fake news’

Hounded by this estate tax issue, Marcos said “fake news” has been mixed in the case but he did not clarify which of it is false information.

Instead, he opted to distance himself and said “let’s leave it to the lawyers to discuss it because the so-called facts that they quote are not facts at all,” in a forum earlier this week.

"They are just presumptions, they are not familiar with the cases or they choose not to be familiar with the case so yeah, it’s in the courts...In my case whatever the court orders me to do, I will do,” he added.

Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, however, said that the assessment of the tax owed is "already final and inappealable, regardless of any error in the computation."  — with report from Franco Luna


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