Retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Thursday, March 24, called for the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to file a criminal case against former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for failing to pay his family’s P203-billion estate tax debt.
He explained that Marcos can be jailed for the failure to settle the debt because “there is a basis” as the country’s tax code said “it is the legal obligation of the administrator to pay the tax.”
The tax code and revenue relegation is clear on this one thing, Carpio added, that the heirs of the Marcos “are primarily liable to pay the estate tax because they are in control of the assets of the estate.”
The Marcos heirs can be imprisoned up to 10 years for their family’s failure to pay the estate tax.
“That’s why I’m saying the BIR, if it wants to, now it can file a criminal case. And I think it’s time because 25 years almost, almost a quarter of a century they have not paid the tax,” Carpio said during a virtual Tapatan forum of opposition coalition 1Sambayan.
“Ano pa ang hinihintay ng BIR? File-an na nila ng (What is the BIR waiting for? File a) criminal case. That’s the last thing they can do. They should now file a criminal case,” he added.
Despite the confirmation from BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay that they sent a demand letter to the Marcos family in December last year, the former High Court magistrate said this is not enough because 25 years have passed and “nothing happened.”
“It’s time to do the—to enforce it by a criminal case, that’s the last step. You’re now in the last step, 25 years na,” Carpio stressed.
He emphasized the urgency of the issue because if Marcos wins in May 2022, he noted the P203 billion “will be gone forever.”
Former BIR Commissioner Kim Henares agreed with the “remedy” but pointed out that should Marcos win, there will be a “presidential immunity, (so) you will not be able to file a criminal case.”
Henares, who was a guest at the 1Sambayan forum, also lamented the possibility of the former senator winning without paying his family’s due taxes.
The issue stemmed from the P23.29 billion of estate taxes that the heirs of former President Ferdinand Marcos neglected to pay. With accrued interests, this has now ballooned to P203.819 billion.
In 1997, the Supreme Court (SC) affirmed a Court of Appeals (CA) ruling dismissing the Marcoses’ plea against a 1993 levy and sale on 11 Tacloban properties meant to settle the delinquent tax debt.
Under the law, the written demand has to be renewed every five years for the debt to be collectible.
“If you’re a president of the country, you have to set an example in terms of taxation because government can’t run without taxes. You can’t fix the roads, you can’t pay the salaries of employees, the soldiers, the teachers unless you collect taxes. And so you must set an example to the citizens, pay your taxes,” Carpio said.
“But if you yourself you owe the government P203 billion and counting, ‘sasabihin nila eh bakit yung presidente natin hindi nagbabayad ng buwis? Bakit tayo lang (they will say ‘why is our president not paying taxes? Why only us)?’ You’re the father of the nation, you set an example. The voters should understand that. I mean do they want a president who will teach the people not to pay the taxes by his example,” he added.