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Opinion

Run after lawmakers’ taxes too, not only Marcoses’

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

Incoming BIR commissioner Lilia Guillermo can up the ante. Collect, as announced, not only the P23.3-billion estate tax of the family of her new boss Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos. Sweep the table by going after tax liabilities of lawmakers as well. Pay special attention to the supermajorities in the Senate and House of Reps. That way Guillermo can fulfill her revenue collection strategy of leadership by example.

The first 100 days are crucial. Marcos Jr. needs to prove his mettle at once. He would be inheriting a P13-trillion public debt and 25 percent unemployment and underemployment. Food, energy and transport crises loom. Solutions lie in government start-ups and “ayuda”. Those cost money – tax money.

Filipinos know why lawmakers form supermajorities. It’s not only to show fealty to the president. It’s more to get what they want – pork barrels from which to take kickbacks.

The Supreme Court has outlawed pork barrels since 2013. Before then, each senator received P200 million and congressman P70 million per year to spend at will. Those used to be called Countryside Development Fund, Priority Development Assistance Fund and Disbursement Acceleration Program. After illegalization, legislators resorted to “insertions” by the billions of pesos. Public funds are re-channeled from executive departments to their personal projects. Most preferred are multibillion-peso “flood control” works; that is, make-believe river dredging. The money goes straight to the legislators’ pockets.

Spotting the crooked in Congress should be easy for Guillermo. They usually are those who swap or synchronize seats with spouses, siblings, parents and offspring. A political dynasty used to target the P200-million loot. Today each hoards P2 billion to P20 billion. Not to forget the bureaucrats and local officials.

Every year one-fifth of the national budget is lost to corruption, the World Bank laments. That would be P1 trillion of this year’s P5-trillion expenditure program. Guillermo can partner with the Ombudsman and the Anti-Money Laundering Council to go after the stolen wealth.

As for Marcos, Guillermo already has her work cut out for her. The BIR as far back as 1991 calculated the estate tax: P23,293,607,638. In addition was the income tax deficiency in 1985-1986 of spouses Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Sr. and Imelda Romualdez Marcos: P184,159,289.70. Plus, Marcos Jr.’s income tax liabilities in 1982-1985: P20,410, an issue raised in the election campaign.

The SC in 1997 deemed those collectibles final and executory.

During the recent campaign too, retired SC justice Antonio Carpio computed the estate tax to have swelled to P203.8 billion due to interests and surcharges.

Marcos Jr.’s staunchest supporters say his presidency is his one chance to redeem the family name, through actions and accomplishments.

Guillermo’s role in that cleansing is vital. Collection of taxes from perceived untouchables would make the new admin credible. Individual and corporate income earners willingly would chip in their share. Foreign and domestic investments will multiply. The government would be able to take out additional loans.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., dwIZ (882-AM).

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