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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Malilong: Facts about Pacquiao’s case

ON “Frankahay Ta!” yesterday morning, many listeners called to lambast the government for supposedly persecuting Manny Pacquiao by freezing all his assets.

Hold your horses, folks. This is not a brief for the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which can very well take care of itself. But we should take at least a little effort to know the facts before ranting that Manny got a “raw deal.”

First, the warrant of distraint was issued early this year yet, meaning many months before deadly Yolanda. So it is not correct to say that the government purposely made it difficult for Manny to help the typhoon victims. The BIR, and I say this with a sigh, has vast powers, including forcing lawyers to display a schedule of fees in their office, but clairvoyance is not one of them.

Second, it was not the BIR that announced that Manny’s bank accounts have been garnished. In fact, that is why only a very few people knew about the distraint even if it had been in place for almost a year; the BIR did not talk about it.

The disclosure came from Manny’s camp. He could not use his money to help the poor victims of Yolanda, his lawyers said, blaming an almost-year-old BIR order. He had to borrow money from friends. In short, it was Manny, not the BIR, who had the issue publicized.

Finally, is Manny being singled out? The BIR has issued similar warrants of distraint in the past against people who are not as popular as the boxing icon. Because the tax agency goes about its job of collecting taxes quietly, very few people know about this.

The BIR did not decide to serve the warrant on Manny overnight. He was given a chance to produce documents that he has paid taxes to the US government for the income that he earned from his megabuck bouts in that country.

We have a tax treaty with the Americans that guarantees that there is no double taxation but one has to prove, through official documents, that taxes have been paid to one country in order to avoid being taxed for the same income in the other.

Instead of presenting official receipts or at least a certification from the Internal Revenue Service, Manny reportedly produced only a certification from promoter Bob Arum and HBO. Naturally, the BIR refused to recognize them and, when Pacquiao still failed to show sufficient proof, issued the warrant of distraint. I hope that Manny will be able to produce the receipts so he can enjoy the money that he earned honestly.

Having said those, I suggest that we pass a law granting a lifetime income tax exemption to Filipinos who have gained international recognition in their respective fields of endeavor. Right now, I can see two people who can immediately qualify for the privilege: Pacquiao and Lea Salonga.

The law – we can call it the Pacquiao Act – will not only be a fitting expression of the nation’s gratitude to countrymen like Manny and Lea who have brought honor to the country but will also serve as inspiration to others to similarly excel in the international stage. How about it, ladies and gentlemen of Congress?

***

It’s been a week since former mayor Tomas Osmeña delivered a speech before the Cebu City Council on why the ordinance that regulates incumbent Mayor Mike Rama’s power to strike deals on the South Road Properties (SRP) should not be repealed.

Osmeña’s camp e-mailed to me late last week a copy of his speech. In fairness to him and the majority councilors, I will write about that speech tomorrow and let the people decide whether the expected rejection of the proposed ordinance is determined by the political configuration in the council or by the merits.

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)
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