Lawmakers commend filing of tax evasion charges vs Corona

August 31, 2012 12:57 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Aug. 30 — Lawmakers on Thursday lauded the filing of tax evasion charges against impeached former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

House Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo "Erin" Tanada III noted that the filing of tax evasion case "is not the persecution of a former chief justice but the prosecution of an alleged tax evader."

"The filing of charges should give the Coronas the opportunity to air their side, and even clear their names , if abuse has been done to them," he said.

BIR Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares earlier said that the bureau filed separate tax evasion charges against the former chief justice, his daughter Ma. Carla Corona-Castillo and husband Constantino Castillo III.

Henares said the former chief justice has failed to file his income tax return for several years starting 2003 to 2005, and again on 2005, 2007 to 2008, and 2010.

She said Corona also underdeclared bank accounts, deeds of sale, among others, in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN). P>The former chief magistrate also failed to declare two properties worth P12.75 million, as well as underdeclared cash assets worth P134.44 million in his SALN for 2010, she added.

Henares said the total tax deficiency of the impeached former chief justice ran to P120.5 million, inclusive of surcharges and interest.

"The big picture here is to teach our young, treat our sick, build our roads, irrigate our farms, arm our police and meet our many other needs," said Tanada.

The House leader said that those who see politics in the filing of tax evasion charges against the former chief justice "are probably blind to the truth that the BIR has been filing tax evasion cases -– without fanfare, fear or favor — against individuals regardless of their stature in society."

"It is against this backdrop that the BIR’s move to charge the Coronas for their alleged failure to comply with one of the most basic duties of citizenship — the payment of taxes — must be appreciated," he said.

"In this case, the BIR must be commended, not condemned for doing its job," he added.

Besides, Tanada said the government needs to collect some P4.3 billion in taxes a day.

"A job made harder by some estimates that the equivalent of three percent of our GDP (gross domestic product) — P300 billion — is lost to tax evasion yearly," he said.

"We should remember that the government can only conquer its budget deficit when the BIR starts conquering its own deficit of will and resolve in running after the high and the mighty," he added.

For his part, Bayan Muna party-list Rep.Neri Colmenares said the filing of tax evasion charges against the Coronas is a good start, "otherwise the impeachment was useless because the purpose of impeachment is to remove the official so he can be charged in court."

"The government must not forget the former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and her subordinates (Mark) Jalandoni and (Emilio) Gonzalez (III), the cases against them must also be seriously prosecuted," he said. (PNA)

FPV/LGI/CMR

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