by Elaine R. Alanguilan
Manila Standard Today
INTERNAL Revenue on Thursday charged Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo, son of former President Gloria Arroyo, with tax evasion, accusing him and his wife Angela of failing to pay P73.85 million in taxes from 2004 to 2009.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the case showed the Aquino administration’s resolve to fight tax cheats.
“The ways of the past are over,” he said.
“Let me repeat for those who still believe otherwise—it is no longer business as usual. The Aquino government is determined to send to jail all tax evaders and smugglers that rob the Filipino people of their much needed government revenues.”
Arroyo denied the charge.
“This is pure political harassment,” he said in a statement.
“Clearly, this administration is resorting to political gimmickry as its popularity rating is declining due to its failure to arrest the rising prices of fuel, electricity, water, canned goods, bread and other basic commodities.
“My conscience is clear. I have done nothing wrong. Now that the case is already in court and the rules of evidence will finally govern this issue, I am confident I will be vindicated.”
Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares said her agency was not singling out any personality in filing tax-evasion cases.
“We’re filing a case against people who don’t not pay taxes no matter who they are. It is not personality-driven,” she said.
Thursday was the first time the Aquino administration filed charges against the former president’s family.
Mrs. Arroyo stepped down in 2010 after nine years in power amid accusations of corruption and favoritism, but she ran and won a seat in Congress representing Pampanga.
The younger Arroyo was elected to the House of Representatives as the leader of a party representing security guards.
Henares said Arroyo’s son did not file a tax return for the years 2005, 2008 and 2009, while his wife had no tax returns for 2003 to 2009. She said the Arroyos failed to pay taxes but declared millions of pesos in real and other properties, including houses in the United States, in Lubao, Pampanga, and in the La Vista Subdivision in Quezon City, as well as motor vehicles, shares of stock and jewelry.
“If you report you have an asset, you should be able to say where it comes from, and where it comes from always, normally there’s a tax consequence,” Henares told reporters.
So if somebody donated it to you, there should be a donor’s tax. If you inherited it, you should have an estate tax. If you bought it, you should have income from which you [got the funds to] buy this property.
“They claim they have all these assets, but [they have] no income tax returns.”
Henares said computations showed the Arroyo couple had declared incomes that were 30 percent less than their actual earnings in 2004, 2006 and 2007.
They owed P73.85 million in taxes, surcharges and interest, she said.
Also on Thursday, an ally of the former President Aquino, Local Water Utilities Administration chairman Prospero Pichay, denied claims of wrongdoing in his acquisition of shares in Express Savings Bank, and reports that it was in financial difficulty.
The bank earned P22 million in 2010 and was expected to make at least P30 million this year, he said in a radio interview.
He said Purisima did not do his job when he failed to review the charges filed against him and four other members of the waterworks administration. The new board was newly appointed, he said, while the decision to invest in Express Savings Bank was made in 2008.
“That is how unprepared Purisima is as a Cabinet secretary,” Pichay said.