The feud between President Duterte and Senator Manny Pacquiao is not yet over.
The President has raised the tax evasion complaint hurled against Pacquiao, saying the boxing icon owed the government P2.2 billion in back taxes.
Turning the tables on the senator, Duterte argued that if a person avoided tax payment, then the official was considered corrupt.
“I remember he has a tax evasion case and he has been assessed to pay 2.2 billion ang utang niya na hindi niya binayaran ang gobyerno (his debt which he has not paid the government) of all his fights, lahat na ‘yan (all of them) considered since the beginning, maraming away ‘yan and billion kinita niya (there were many fights and he earned billions) But sa isang fight niya, 2.2 billion kukunin ng BIR ‘yan. Sa America walang problema, talagang bayad ka; kung hindi, kulong ka (But in one fight, BIR must collect 2.2 billion. In America, there was no problem. You must pay otherwise, you’ll be jailed),” Duterte said during a meeting with PDP-Laban party leaders Tuesday, July 6.
Duterte, in his taped remarks aired on state television Wednesday, July 7, however, made clear that he was not running after Pacquiao over his supposed tax obligations. He just wanted to point out Pacquiao’s situation after the senator alleged that corruption worsened in his government.
“ I’ll try to find out. May ano ‘yan siya may utang siya 2.2 billion (He has a debt of 2.2 billion). Not because gusto ko siyang habulin, ayaw ko, but sabi kasi niya corrupt. Eh ‘di kung corrupt kami, ‘di ikaw (Not because I want to run after them but he said we’re corrupt. If we are corrupt, what about you?) When you cheat government, you are a corrupt official,” he said.
“So I remember na mayroon, may kaso siya (So I remember that he has a case) It’s still in — I think with the courts. I do not know but I’ll check it,” he said.
In 2018, Pacquiao scored a win when the Court of Tax Appeals ordered the government’s tax bureau to cease and desist from collecting P3-billion alleged tax deficiency for 2008 and 2009 from the senator and his wife Jinkee due to lack of merit.
The government’s initial tax assessment was pegged at around P2.2 billion but rose to P3.2 billion due to surcharges and penalties. The Pacquiaos elevated the case before the Supreme Court after the CTA initially ordered the tax payment. In 2016, the high tribunal directed the CTA to hold another hearing to review BIR’s computation.
The President earlier alleged that Pacquiao and former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV were alike since they supposedly wanted to “hold power.”
Duterte’s latest tirade against Pacquiao came after the longtime ally tagged some government agencies for alleged corruption. The President earlier threatened to campaign against Pacquiao if he fails to prove his claim that his government was more corrupt compared to the previous administration.
Duterte serves as chairman of PDP-Laban party while Pacquiao is party president. The two politicians have been longtime friends until Pacquiao recently complained about corruption in government.
Duterte earlier said he was seriously considering running for vice president while Pacquiao is rumored to be eyeing the presidency in next year’s elections.