Isko Moreno: P203 billion in estate taxes owed can feed 59 million Filipinos

Isko Moreno: P203 billion in estate taxes owed can feed 59 million Filipinos
Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno formally launches his campaign for the presidency on September 22, 2021.
Manila Public Information Office / released

MANILA, Philippines — Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer Isko Moreno said that the P203-billion estate tax owed by the Marcos family could feed rice to 59.7 million Filipinos daily for a year if the Bureau of Internal Revenue would be able to collect it. 

The Manila City mayor made the statement when asked for his reaction on videos of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. — whose father was ousted and passed away in 1989 — walked away from reporters when their non-payment of the P203 billion estate tax was brought up.

To date, the Marcos family has not paid its estate tax despite a 1997 Supreme Court court decision ordering the Marcoses to pay a tax liability of P23.29 billion. Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio said that penalties in the decades that Marcos heirs failed to pay the debt have seen the amount balloon to P203 billion. 

"When we charge the P203 billion we can feed...this is literally, every day, a Filipino eats two sacks of rice in one year. So, it means we can alleviate hunger that people experience with expensive goods once it is given to the government,” Moreno told reporters in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

“With your help, I will just follow the law because it is final and executory, said the Supreme Court. I will just take that, I will just fulfill the law, my duty will be distributed to the people for the benefit of the people."

Moreno’s computation was based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority which said that the per capita rice consumption per year among Filipinos is 103.25 kilograms or a little more than two sacks of rice, with each sack containing 50 kilos. 

Based on the PSA data, P203 billion can buy 119.4 million sacks of rice which can feed 59.7 million Filipino with each having two sacks of rice worth P3,400 at P34 per kilo. 

To recall, Isko’s campaign strategist Lito Banayo on Tuesday appealed to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez to order the BIR to immediately collect the P203-B Marcos debt and use it as cash assistance to workers who lost their jobs, as well as jeepney drivers who have been bearing the brunt of the unabated increase in fuel prices. 

“The aid that will be given is good from P200 to P500 a month. But try dividing P203 billion by 4.2 million Filipinos in the workforce who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. That would translate into P48,833.33 ayuda for each of the 4.2 million workers and which will be equivalent to a 4,000 monthly ayuda for each worker for 12 months,” Banayo pointed out.

READ: Moreno vows to sell Imelda’s art collection, jewelry

No word from Marcos

The Marcos family’s estate tax has been hounding them for weeks now. The presidential bet, who rarely gives lives interviews himself, has not yet publicly made a statement about it.

At a chance interview in a hotel in Tagaytay, as he courted Cavite voters on Tuesday, Marcos met with reporters and xxgave his statement on the PDP-Laban endorsement that he bagged on that day.

When a reporter asked him whether he had paid even his families’ estate tax, Marcos turned his head away, laughed and walked away.

Sought for a reaction by reporters, Moreno said he is puzzled why Marcos Jr. has been dodging and refusing to answer questions about the estate tax as ordered by the Supreme Court considering that as a candidate running for the highest position of the land, it is expected that Marcos Jr. should set a good example and be a role model to all Filipinos. 

“Well, I don’t know why [he dodges those questions.] Honestly, it should be easy because you just inherited it. Maybe it's not bad for you to reduce what you inherited that you didn't work hard for, especially if we are going to serve the people and one of the state's obligations is to collect taxes from the people as I asked earlier. Eh, if ordinary people who pay taxes are probably aspiring, especially for the presidency, maybe it's good for us to be an example of paying taxes and it's really good here,” Moreno said.

He added: "For the regular people who work, paying taxes leaves a bitter taste in their mouth. Sometimes he doesn't know where to go or whether the tax cost he worked so hard for will be fixed. Here, the good thing about it is that he didn't struggle with it, he just inherited it. I hope he can realize that just like he said if I borrow his own words, said former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., what we need now, people say, is work. Eh, if he pays the P203 billion, we can give them a lot of work."

Isko's camp on the offensive vs Marcos

A Supreme Court ruling has already tackled the P203-billion estate tax which the Marcos family owes the national government.

Moreno has also said that if he becomes president, he will collect the Marcos debt and use it as ayuda or cash assistance to Filipinos affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Banayo said collecting the huge debt could be President Rodrigo Duterte’s legacy, especially now that he himself has admitted that the government is hard-pressed in looking for funds even to assist the transport sector. 

Banayo said there are also different ways to collect the huge debt, despite the delaying tactics employed by the Marcoses that had made the original P23 billion liabilities in 1997 to balloon to P203 billion. 

He pointed to the paintings of major impressionists like Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley, among others that Imelda Marcos collected using taxpayers’ money. 

Moreno earlier said that if he becomes president, he would sell the massive ill-gotten jewelry collection of Imelda Marcos as the government tries to collect the P203 billion the family owed to the state. 

Based on the reports submitted by Christie’s and Sotheby’s in November 2015, the massive ill-gotten jewelry collection seized from the Marcoses and stored in a vault at the BSP for almost three decades amounts to a conservative estimate of at least P1 billion. 

The collection includes diamonds studded tiaras, necklaces, brooches, earrings, belts, and other gems as well as women’s and men’s wristwatches such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Cartier.

Some pieces were from international jewelry makers like Bulgari, Van Cleef and Arpels, and Bucellatti. Among the most notable pieces is the 25-carat pink diamond, considered to be an exceedingly rare jewel.

‘Fake news’: Marcos says on estate tax issue

In a forum last week, Marcos said “fake news” has been mixed in the estate tax 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. — Franco Luna with a report from Kristine Joy Patag

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