Pay P23-B estate tax now, Isko tells Marcos, Jr.

 Pay P23-B estate tax now, Isko tells Marcos, Jr.

MANILA Mayor and presidential candidate Francisco “Isko” M. Domagoso on Thursday challenged the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos to pay billions of pesos of his family’s estate taxes.

“Pay the P23 billion now,” he said in a livestreamed video in Filipino, referring to the original tax assessment that his party claims has ballooned to P203 billion due to interest. “Where is it?” he asked, adding that the tax lawsuit had long been resolved.

“Pay it now,” the former matinee idol, whose rags to riches story has fascinated some Filipinos, said. “You have lots of money. Your original tax alone already amounts to P23 billion, the rest should be more,” he said, addressing former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., who is also running for president this year.

“Be honest with yourself,” Mr. Domagoso said. “Anyway, that’s your problem, not mine. Someday, you would have to pay.”

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday night asked why billions of pesos in taxes owed by the heirs of the late dictator remained unpaid.

“In our taxation, the government can only prod,” he said in a taped speech. “The Bureau of Internal Revenue is there. Let’s ask them why the estate tax is still unpaid.”

Both the country’s tax agency and a body formed in the 1980s to recover ill-gotten wealth of the dictator and his cronies this month confirmed the tax assessments, but did not say why these have not been paid.

The country’s tax agency had demanded payment of the taxes from Marcos estate administrators, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters in a Viber message on Wednesday, citing the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay on March 14 said his office did send a written demand letter to the Marcos heirs on Dec. 2, 2021 regarding their tax liabilities.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) separately said the tax agency in 1991 assessed the estate of Ferdinand Marcos P23.29 billion in estate taxes, P184.16 million in unpaid income taxes of Mr. Marcos and his wife Imelda for 1985 and 1986, and P20,410 in unpaid income taxes against the dictator for 1982 to 1985.   

In 1993, BIR levied and sold 11 Marcos properties in Tacloban after the family failed to file an administrative protest. The lots were awarded to the state in the absence of bidders, it said.   

The Supreme Court in 1997 denied a plea by Marcos, Jr. to void the levies as it ruled the tax assessments had become final and unappealable.

Mr. Marcos’s detractors including Mr. Domagoso have pressed his family to pay the taxes, which have supposedly ballooned to P203 billion due to interest and other penalties.

The Finance department has said the estate tax would be an additional revenue source for the government amid surging global oil prices.

Critics including retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio T. Carpio have been calling on the tax agency to file a criminal case against the Marcoses for refusing to pay the taxes.

Marcos, Jr., who is leading in presidential opinion polls, is running for president in tandem with Mr. Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

The President last year called Mr. Marcos a “weak leader” and a “spoiled child,” saying he is the reason why his political party did not form an alliance with his daughter. “I am not impressed by him.”

A rival political party earlier warned that the debt could get erased if the tax agency fails to collect the tax by June 30, in case Mr. Marcos wins the election.   

Government could no longer collect the estate taxes if Marcos, Jr. becomes president Mr. Carpio told the ABS-CBN News Channel on Thursday. He insists the Supreme Court decided in 1997 that the tax assessment had become final and executory.

“The president should be the No. 1 model for the country,” he said. “He’s the father of the nation. Government runs on taxes, its fuel. Without taxes, government cannot run.”

Mr. Carpio said the president must set an example. “Everybody’s saying now, ‘If he doesn’t pay, why should I?’ It has to be settled before the election date.”

The dictator stole as much as $10 billion (P521 billion) from the Filipino people, according to government estimates, earning him a Guinness World Record for the “greatest robbery of a government.” PCGG has recovered about P171 billion.

Meanwhile, founding members of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP), the political party of Mr. Marcos, endorsed Mr. Domagoso for president.

Abubakar Mangelen, who now heads a separate faction of the party, together with former Agrarian Reform Secretary John R. Castriciones issued a resolution for the endorsement. — Jaspearl Emerald G. Tan