Pimentel says delinquent estate should be surrendered to gov't

Senator and lawyer Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III asserted on Tuesday that heirs who have delinquent estate must no longer receive their inheritance.

In an ANC interview on Tuesday, Pimentel said it was because "theoretically the entire estate of the person who died would have to be surrendered to the government to pay for the estate taxes due."

The lawmaker made the remark in response to the unpaid estate tax of the family of frontrunning presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

Pimentel, who sponsored a Senate resolution that seeks an inquiry into the Marcos estate tax debts, said an heir of someone who died "is now entitled to inheritance."

"That's why he needs to pay the estate tax of his ancestor's property," he added.

To do that, the lawmaker said, the Bureau of Internal Revenue must look for properties of the person who still has tax obligations.

"Pwedeng personal property ito, sasakyan, alahas, mga stocks, tapos pwede ring real property ito, lupain, bahay, building (It can be personal property, car, jewelry. It can also be real property, like land, house or building)," he said.

Former president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. left a tax deficiency amounting to P23.29 billion from his total assets when he died in 1989. His surviving family, including his wife Imelda and son Marcos Jr., was demanded to meet their estate's tax obligation but failed to do so, pending ruling on their appeal, which have actually been already ruled by the Supreme Court as "final and unappealable."

Twenty years later, the tax debt ballooned to P203 billion due to accrued interest payments.

Despite the huge amount, Pimentel believed that Marcos Sr.'s heirs must still pay the amount, even just partially.

"A person who is willing to pay can always start paying the amount which is uncontested. That is the proof of good faith that you really want to pay," Pimentel said.

He added that the Marcos family can still pay through the properties that are not yet sequestered by the government.

"Ang expectation kasi ng BIR ang estate na ito assets more than ...that's why P23 billion yung estate tax due eh. Ang expectation naman ng BIR kung may problema (BIR's expectation was that this estate had assets more than its tax deficiency, that's why the estate tax due was P23 billion. BIR's expectation everytime there's a problem is that), this kind of an estate should be able to afford the lawyers to fight for the rights of the estate and question all the questionable procedures, decisions and figures," he also said. "Eh wala eh (It seems nothing)."

But why sponsor a resolution just now? Pimentel, who heads a faction of PDP-Laban party that has its own bet for the presidential race, said it is because the Marcos family's unpaid tax estate is now a matter of "national interest," considering that many are getting poorer.

"Di ba tayo interesado as a nation ngayong maraming naghihirap? (Aren't we interested in this case considering that many are now suffering?)" he asked.

Pimental said the resolution also aims to aid the legislation and to find out "what's wrong with our national internal revenue." In its hearing, he said, lawmakers will invite former and current BIR officials as well as administrators of the delinquent estate.

"Tanungin natin sila what happened (Let's ask them what happened)," he said.