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I am no thief — Pacman; just face the music — Palace

SARANGANI Representative and Filipino boxing idol Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pacquiao on Tuesday cried foul over the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals to freeze his bank deposits of over P2.2 billion.

In a statement, Pacquiao said the timing of the CTA order was questionable, especially now that he intends to help those affected by super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ and the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in the Visayas region.

“Matagal ko nang gustong tumulong sa mga nasalanta ng bagyo at lindol, pero ako po ay hinabla ng BIR ng P2.2 billion peso tax case na walang kabase-base at ang aking mga pera sa bangko ay ginarnish ng BIR,” Pacquiao said.

“Hindi ako makapag-withdraw ni isang singkong sentimo sa sarili ko pong pera, hindi ko magamit para man lang makatulong. Ang pera kong ginarnish ng BIR ay hindi po nakaw at hindi po PDAF o DAP, ito po ay galing sa lahat ng suntok, bugbog, pawis at dugo na tiniis ko sa boxing,” he added.

(I wanted to help the people who were affected by the typhoon and the earthquake, but the BIR sued me for P2.2 billion without any basis and they garnished by money in the bank. I couldn’t withdraw a single centavo from my own money, which I intend to use to help the people. The money that the BIR garnished did not come from robbery or from the PDAF or DAP. These all came from the punches that I received, the sweat and the blood which I all endured in boxing).

Pacquiao also questioned the motive of the BIR for filing the case against him even if his camp has already provided the bureau with all the tax requirements and information it needed.

“The BIR claims I earned more than what I actually did, without any evidence to back it up. They ignored information given by Top Rank and HBO and insisted I have earned more. My lawyers have given them all the info that they want and they still refuse to believe. I really don’t know why I am being singled out.”

“The IRS also gave us a copy of the taxes deducted from my earnings covering that period. Unfortunately, the BIR refused to honor the copy of tax deduction credited by the IRS,” he added.

The boxer-lawmaker claimed the BIR has been demanding a certified true copy of the IRS document.

“Iba ang sistema natin kumpara US. Hindi sila nagbibigay ng certified true copy kasi pag nagbigay ng public document ang alin mang government agency dun sa kanila, it is understood na authentic yon (The US has a different system. They don’t give a certified true copy because every time a public document is issued by any government agency in the US, it is understood that it is authentic),” Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao appealed to the BIR to remove the garnishment on his bank accounts, saying that he would not turn his back on his responsibilities as a Filipino citizen.

He added that there are people whose livelihood depends on his businesses who will also suffer because of the freeze order. He also hinted that politics was behind the case.

Malacanang, however, advised Pacquiao to “face the music” or make a settlement with the government.

The BIR earlier said that P2.2 billion tax case stemmed from the failure of Pacquiao’s accountant to report in his income tax returns the taxes collected by the US Internal Revenue Service from his prize winnings from 2008 to 2009. “He should address the issue. Maybe apologize, and offer some form of settlement,” Presidential Communications Operations Office head Secretary Sonny Coloma said.

“We are a government of laws, not of men,” he added.

Coloma also denied that the government is bent on harassing Pacquiao, who is not an ally of President Benigno Aquino III.

“Harassment is not in our agenda. The CTA’s action is in accordance with the Internal Revenue Code. Citizens may avail themselves of appropriate legal remedies,” Coloma said.

BIR lawyers said Pacquiao’s failure to answer the final assessment notice sent to him has made his tax debts “demandable, executory, and collectible.”

BIR records showed that the boxing champ earned more than $28 million in prize money in 2008 and 2009. Of the amount, the US IRS collected $8.4 million or roughly about P395 million.

But Pacquiao said he did not include the remittances to the IRS in his ITR because of an existing tax treaty agreement between Manila and Washington which stipulates that income tax paid by Filipinos in the US is creditable against his income tax liabilities in the Philippines.

As this developed, the Court of Tax Appeals denied it has issued any freeze order on Pacquiao’s deposit, saying that it was the BIR which issued a warrant of garnishment to the banks, which in effect froze the accounts.

The CTA’s clarification was issued by Atty. Margarette Guzman, CTA First Division Clerk of Court.

Guzman said Pacquiao has filed a civil case with the court on August questioning the assessment issued against him and his wife for P2.2 billion, and to suspend the collection of the taxes on the strength of a temporary restraining order.

Pacquiao, meanwhile, found an ally in Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., who questioned the timing of the public disclosure of the CTA, saying that it was ‘shocking and ill-timed.’

Barzaga said he is saddened by the decision of the CTA a day after Pacquiao’s decisive victory over Brandon Rios at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian in Macau last Sunday and his return to the country on Monday where he was given hero’s welcome in General Santos City.

Barzaga, a noted lawyer, said that Pacquiao’s victory had given the needed respite for a country ravaged by a series of natural calamities and confronted with several controversies.

He said that Pacquiao’s ability to inspire the Filipino people should not be doomed by the freezing of his bank accounts, and vowed “to personally look into” the tax case of Pacquiao.

The CTA declaration of the freeze order against Pacquiao comes on the heels of a resolution (HR No. 547) filed by the Independent Minority Bloc which commends him and other Filipino champions for inspiring the country during times of calamities, following their victories.

The Bloc, led by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, whose district was battered by Yolanda, expressed gratitude to the champions for making Filipino a very proud race. With Joyce P. Panares

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