The President of the Philippines is backing the Bureau of Internal Revenue and stopped short of explicitly saying that Manny Pacquiao is to blame for his tax woes.
In a press conference, Benigno Aquino III said the boxing icon should not fear if he did comply with the law.
The BIR has been criticized recently for what some say is harassment. Pacquiao said earlier this week that he does not know why he is being singled out by the BIR and that big-time thieves in the country are better off than him.
Aquino, however, denied any harassment saying, “Bakit siya iha-harass? Saan ba ang logic noon?”
The president said that from what he understands, all that was frozen by the BIR and the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) is P1.1 million. He said this is nothing compared to all the winnings of the acclaimed prizefighter.
BIR boss Kim Henares recently told Pacquiao to stop blaming the BIR if he has money woes as they only froze P1.1 million of his money.
Pacquiao said that he has long wanted to help victims of the Bohol earthquake and super typhoon Yolanda but couldn’t do so because his assets have been frozen. He returned on Monday from his win against Brandon Rios to find out that his bank deposits have been garnished by the CTA in response to the BIR-filed case against him.
Furthermore, Pacquiao said that he has employees to pay and scholars who depend on him for their education expenses.
Aquino said that if Pacquiao paid the right taxes and complied with the rules, he has nothing to worry about.
“Ang dulo nito siguro, and with all due respect to Congressman Pacquiao, if he believes that he has complied with all the necessary rules and all the necessary laws, surely he has all the evidence to afford,” Aquino told members of the press, ABS-CBN reports.
He also described Pacquiao’s action to ignore the requests of the BIR as careless.
“Ang isyu ng BIR is he was being asked two years ago and medyo parang, ang pagkaintindi ko, cavalier—‘yung hindi nagre-respond to legitimate summonses by the BIR,” Aquino said.
Furthermore, the president said “the bottom line is the difference ng tax rate natin at tax rate doon still has to be made up,” pointing out that Pacquiao earns abroad and pays taxes abroad. Aquino said that, of course, he is not an expert of the tax laws of the country.
He also reiterated in another part of the interview his earlier statement that Pacquiao has nothing to worry about if he did not do anything wrong.
“If he did right, then I’m sure he will be able to prove that he did right, and therefore there is no issue,” he said.
Furthermore, he said Pacquiao should not engage in a “media war” against the BIR.
“So the way to settle it is to answer all of these queries by the BIR and not to engage in a media war,” adding that it is not the job of the country’s media to decide what is right or wrong and that that is the job of the country’s judicial system.
“It will be our courts eventually, if it gets to that, who will decide. But, again, the process has been two years,” he said.
The BIR is asking Pacquiao to pay P2.2 billion, an amount the boxer’s camps says is outrageous because it is more than the boxer’s net worth.