THE ‘former political has-been’ is in a fighting mood, running after businessmen who underdeclared their income ostensibly to evade paying huge taxes. He already filed two criminal complaints before the City Prosecutor’s Office for tax evasion against Banco de Oro (BDO) Magallanes branch, an affiliate of SM Prime Holdings, and GDS Security and Detective Agency owned by the family of businessman Benjamin “Ben” Sun.

In the case of BDO, the “former political has-been” claimed that the bank management underdeclared its income in 2015 by declaring that it only had an income of P40,000, not even enough to pay the salary of its manager.

He could not believe it because a sari-sari store in Carbon declared a P250,000-income. Granting that BDO underdeclared its income, do you think that with the hundreds of commercial banks operating in the city, it’s only this bank that is “cheating” the City of its tax obligation?

Well, we know already the hidden personal agenda of this person and why he is bent on running after BDO. Because this bank is a subsidiary of SM Prime Holdings, one of the three big developers that bought a parcel of lot at the South Road Properties (SRP) during “has-been” mayor Michael Rama.

In the case of GDS, the security agency has an existing contract with City Hall as a security provider of the City Government’s properties. According to my source, the agency has collectibles from City Hall amounting to P30 million. Sa kadaghan sa mga security agencies nga nag-operate diri sa Cebu City, ang GDS ra gyud kaha ang nanikas ngadto sa kagamhanan sa Dakbayan? Nganong wala man pod gukda ug lutusa ang uban?

Some entrepreneurial minds at City Hall, who are closely identified with the “former political has-been” want to terminate the contract of GDS so their “favored” security agency can take over. Former city councilor Agustus ‘“Jun” Pe, who now holds awesome power under this administration without official designation and appointment, owns a security agency called EastPoint. So don’t be surprised if one of these days Jun Pe’s security agency will take over City Hall’s security matters.

I hope that the association of Mr. Ben Sun with Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella has nothing to do with the decision of the “former political has-been” to run after Sun’s agency. Sun and Labella are very close as they are both founding members of the Walk and Talk Club, a group of professionals and businessmen who walk daily at the Cebu City Sports Center. The group is a known supporter of Labella and contributed to the vice mayor’s campaign kitty.

But the worse thing is yet to happen. The “former political has-been” has ordered the City Treasurer’s Office not to process and approve the business permit applications of Bank of Philippines Islands (BPI), an affiliate of Ayala Land Inc., and East-West Bank, owned by Filinvest Inc. Like SM, Ayala and Filinvest also bought a parcel of land at the SRP during Rama’s time. He wants these establishments to directly apply for their business permits in the mayor’s office. Why? Because he wants the lives of the owners of these companies to be miserable. Lisud-lisuron gyud niya. What he is doing to these banks can alarm depositors. What if he will order the closure of these banks for non-compliance of local business permits?

He told reporters “they must apply directly in the mayor’s office because they are in my negative list. I’m going to find anything wrong with them. I’ll throw all the books. They want to steal our property. I know how to fight back. I am doing this to protect the interest of the City.” You see that, it’s really his personal agenda.

Negative list or “hate list”? I doubt these banks, which belong to highly respected and reputable companies, are cheating the government in paying their taxes. He vowed to prosecute the bank owners like the US government did to Al Capone, who was convicted of tax evasion. Alphonso Gabriel ‘Al’ Capone was a leader of a notorious gangster in Chicago in the ‘40s. He escaped prosecution of the other crimes he committed like murder but the US government convicted him of tax evasion.

But granting that these companies “cheated” the government of their tax obligations, the matter can be settled by just imposing fines and penalties and requiring them to pay the right taxes.

Correct me if I am wrong, did you hear of any tax evader who was sent to jail? Business tycoon Lucio Tan was charged with tax evasion by former Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) commissioner Liwayway Benson Chato during Ramos’s time. Tan’s tax obligations reached billions of pesos. But what happened? Tan is still there and remains one of the country’s richest individual. Kining gihimo aning tawo diha sa City Hall pagpanggukod man lang god aning mga kompaniya nga misupak sa iyang kamanduan nga dili mopalit ug lote diha sa SRP sa panahon ni Rama.

Personal man na iyang motibo.

(bobby@sunstar.com.ph)