Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ira Panganiban’s ‘Dear Kim Henares’ open letter for Pacquiao goes viral ( Pacquiao of ₱2.2 billion vs Lucio Tan of ₱5-billion no garnishment)

Open Letter of former ABS-CBN correspondent Ira V. Panganiban to BIR commissioner Kim Jacinto Henares regarding the "lien" and garnishment order to the bank assets and bank accounts of Manny Pacqiuao 


An open letter addressed to Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares by journalist Ira Panganiban goes viral on Facebook after it criticized the latter's cherry-picking on who to prosecute.


In his letter, Panganiban defended the boxing champ Manny Pacquiao whose banks accounts were frozen following a 2.2 billion tax case after his failure to report the millions of dollars in taxes he paid in the US.


His open letter was first shared in his Facebook account garnering more than 5.9k shares and more than 4.5k likes. On Twitter, the letter was tweeted repeatedly especially among local celebs.


Panganiban, who was a former ABS-CBN correspondent and now a newscaster for Inquirer Radio, also questioned why BIR is not keen on looking at Lucio Tan "who owes the country more than 5-billion pesos in tax."


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Here's the full letter:


Dear Kim Henares,

I do not doubt your sincerity to collect taxes from every Filipino, living or dead.


I do not even doubt your integrity in making sure that you are able to collect the proper taxes from everyone.


I am however questioning your motives and arbitrary choice in the personalities you choose to prosecute.


I am going to cite one particular person who has been on the BIR's radar as a perennial tax evader for the last 20-years with cases going in and out of court.


His name is Lucio Tan and he owes the country more than ₱5-billion pesos in tax liabilities decided on numerous times by the Supreme Court as executory and final and yet no garnishment order was ever made until his petition reaches the SC, who would then reverse their decisions time and again.


Lucio Tan was never known for his philanthropy or good business practices. He authored the contractualization of PAL and Asia Brewery employees which was not only detrimental to Filipino Labor but also to taxes that could be collected from these workers had they been regular employees.


Lucio Tan is also accused of ill-gotten wealth from his Marcos days, and yet he continues to enjoy his money.


Congressman Manny Pacquiao's case is not even at the High Court and his earnings have already been garnished.


You have been given certified true copies of Pacman's tax payments in the US and yet you refuse to recognize this and insist on originals which I believe, but I may be mistaken, even US citizens have no access to.


And to think that Pacquiao earned his money through honest, literally blood, sweat and tears. And he is one of about ten persons who insist in keeping his money in the Philippines because he is a patriot.


He could have stashed it somewhere you cannot reach if he had things to hide, but he kept it here, so our economy can make use of it.


You cannot even freeze the money of politicians involved in the PDAF scam but you can do this to an ordinary man who managed to rise above all of you through hard work, guts, integrity and the work of his own hands.


And that is why your integrity is rapidly being eroded, because you don't seem to think anymore. You just grab the first victim that cannot fight you.


Because even if Pacquiao is a Congressman, he is not connected to the old boys club and so does not have the clout of the Tan's, Sy's, Dy's and others.


Oh, and Lucio Tan did give over 100 million to Noynoy's election kitty while Pacquiao was with the opposition.


I guess we know now the motivations don't we?


Yours disgustedly,


Your Boss's Boss


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Thursday, November 28, 2013

China's aircraft carrier navigates 10 hours North Philippines to Palawan Territory ; Ready for any Attacks


China aircraft carrier passed north of PH – report


China's first aircraft carrier making its way towards the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) for sea trials has passed through the Strait of Taiwan north of the Philippines.


The Liaoning, a refitted aircraft carrier built by the former Soviet Union and bought by China, took 10 hours to pass through the strait Thursday morning, according to a report from on board the ship by China's Xinhua News Agency.


The Taiwan Strait is a 180-kilometer wide stretch of water that separates mainland China from Taiwan. The Liaoning aircraft carrier passed through the strait escorted by two missile destroyers and two missile frigates, the report said.


Liaoning Captain Zhang Zheng was quoted as saying that they have kept a high degree of vigilance for foreign warships and aircraft that might approach the carrier group.


Previous sea trials of the carrier were conducted in relatively calmer waters off China's northeast coast.


The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that the deployment of the carrier to the West Philippine Sea raises strains in a region that was already under much tensions from territorial disputes.


"Its deployment raises tensions and violates the declaration on the conduct of parties in the [West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)]," DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a press conference last Wednesday.


"Its deployment must not be violative of international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS). Its deployment must therefore not be for other than peaceful purposes," he said.


Xinhua reported that the training exercises of the vessel from the personnel to the carrier itself had been going well.


The Philippines has filed an arbitration case against China before the international Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands.


The case stems from China's territorial claim over the entire South China Sea including portions of the Philippine's 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.


Tensions between the two countries reached its peak last April 2012 when a standoff between Chinese and Philippine vessels ensued after Chinese fishermen were found poaching endemic and endangered marine species in Bajo de Masinloc (Panatag Shoal or Scarborough Shoal).


Philippine authorities that sought to apprehend the Chinese fishermen were blocked by Chinese Maritime Surveillance ships. China has since maintained control over the shoal leaving Filipino fishermen unable to fish in it.


Diplomatic protests were filed by the Philippines against China for the incident but to no avail. -

Japan, Korea unites their air power to challenge China's ADIZ "All Air is mine dream"

The Chinese zone covers islands claimed by Japan and Taiwan

Japan and South Korea defy China air zone rules

Japan and South Korea have both flown planes unannounced through China's newly-declared air defense zone, officials from both nations say.

Japanese aircraft had conducted routine "surveillance activity" over the East China Sea zone, the top government spokesman said.

South Korea had also conducted a flight, its defense ministry said.

China says planes transiting the zone, which covers areas claimed by Tokyo, Seoul and Taipei, must file plans.

The zone includes islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China which are claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan.

Japan controls the islands, which have been the focus of a bitter and long-running dispute between Japan and China.

The zone also covers a submerged rock that South Korea says forms part of its territory.

China, which established the air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Saturday, says aircraft must report a flight plan, communicate and identify themselves. Those who do not could face "defensive emergency measures".

China's move has been condemned by the US and Japan.

America, which called the move a "destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region", flew two unarmed B-52 bombers through the zone unannounced on Tuesday

'Not going to change'

Japanese officials did not specify when the flights happened, but confirmed the surveillance activity.

"Even since China has created this airspace defense zone, we have continued our surveillance activities as before in the East China Sea, including in the zone," said Japan's top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga.

"We are not going to change this [activity] out of consideration to China," he added.

For their part, South Korea's military said one of their planes entered the zone on Tuesday.

South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said on Wednesday that the air zone issue had made "already tricky regional situations even more difficult to deal with".

"We've witnessed competition and conflicts among players of the region getting fiercer," he told Yonhap news agency.

On Thursday South Korea and China held talks on the zone, but failed to reach any agreement.

China defended its establishment of an air zone on Thursday, with a Defense Ministry spokesman telling state media it was "completely justified and legitimate".

US Vice-President Joe Biden is expected to express America's concerns to China when he makes a scheduled visit next week.

Mr. Biden would "convey our concerns directly and... seek clarity regarding the Chinese intentions in making this move at this time", a senior US official administration said.

Mr. Biden will also make stops in Japan and South Korea during his trip to Asia.

Meanwhile, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said China's air zone move in the East China Sea may have implications for territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

His comments come as China's aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and its warship escorts headed to the South China Sea for what has been described as a training mission.

"There's this threat that China will control the air space [in the South China Sea]," Mr. Del Rosario told local media.

"It transforms an entire air zone into China's domestic air space. And that is an infringement, and compromises the safety of civil aviation," he said, adding it "also compromises the national security of affected states".

Aside from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims with China in the South China Sea. - BBC News

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Zamboanga “INVASION” that killed 200 masterminded by ex US Navy with MNLF; nabbed in Cagayan de Oro

(Zamboanga siege. Photo by philstar)


'Fake' UN agent in bloody Mindanao siege nabbed


MANILA: Authorities have announced the arrest of a "fake" United Nations representative linked to the bloody and violent three-week standoff between government forces and "rogue" elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in early September in Zamboanga City in volatile Southwest Mindanao.


Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca, the regional police spokesman, reported the arrest of Daniel Xavier, a former US Navyman, inside a bus terminal in Cagayan de Oro also in Mindanao before dawn on Tuesday.


Huesca said Xavier did not resist when a composite team of policemen and soldiers served him an arrest warrant issued by a regional court in Zamboanga City.


The government has filed charges of rebellion and violations of international laws of crimes against humanity against Nur Misuari, the MNLF founding chairman, and Xavier for their alleged involvement in the Zamboanga City siege that killed more than 200 rebels, soldiers, policemen and civilians.


The standoff also displaced more than 120,000 residents most of them still crammed into temporary evacuation centers where they continued to receive relief from the government, UN agencies and other foreign groups.


According to the charge sheet, Xavier posed as a United Nations representative who allegedly promised to provide UN financial and material assistance to members of an MNLF faction loyal to Misuari in launching the attack on Zamboanga City in early September as part of Misuari's independence movement. – The Gulf Today

Court of Appeals freezes bank accounts of small Pork Barrel crooks fishes; big fish bank accounts “Empty”?

Court of Appeals freezes bank accounts of four ex-solons over pork scam


Pork scam suspects continue to feel the wheels of justice. The Court of Appeals has issued a freeze order covering the bank accounts of four former congressmen and six staff members of three senators who are implicated in the 10-billion pork barrel fund scam.


In a 43-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Manuel Barrios, the CA Former Second Division said covered by the freeze order were the bank accounts of the following:


  • former APEC party-list Rep. Edgar Valdez;
  • former Agusan Del Sur Rep. Rodolfo Plaza;
  • former Benguet Rep. Samuel Dangwa
  • former Cagayan de Oro Rep. Constantino Jaraula


Also covered were bank accounts of:


  • Atty. Jessica Lucila "Gigi" Reyes, former chief of staff of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile;
  • Richard Cambe, chief of staff of Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr;
  • Ruby Tuason, a representative of Enrile and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada;
  • Pauline Labayen, staff of Estrada;
  • Jose Sumalpong, chief of staff of former Masbate Rep. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete; and
  • Erwin Dangwa, chief of staff Dangwa.


These individuals are among the 38 individuals earlier slapped with criminal complaints at the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the supposed misuse of 10 billion of Priority Development Assistance Fund (Pork Barrel).


De Lima knew about it 'weeks ago'


For her part, De Lima admitted she knew about the OSG requesting the CA to issue the freeze order "a few weeks ago." She, however, kept mum about it in the media.


"I was advised not to be announcing it kasi alam niyo na, kapag ina-announce ang pag-freeze ng mga assets, bank accounts ay baka unahan tayo nung mga iyan, nung mga may hawak ng accounts na iyan. So it's not safe at all to be disclosing those things," De Lima told reporters in Manila.


She said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was "closely coordinating" with the Anti-Money Laundering Council in relation to moves by the government to have assets of people involved in the fund mess frozen


Plaza, who according to the NBI had amassed P42.1 million from the scam, left the country on September 11.


Tuason left on August 26, while the Bureau of Immigration has also confirmed that Reyes left the country August 31.


The CA said the freeze order, served to the banks on Wednesday, would be in effect for three months.


The CA ordered the banks covered by the order to submit within 24 hours a return of the freeze order, to show that they have complied.


The freeze order stemmed from an earlier request to the CA made by the AMLC through the Office of the Solicitor General.


Concurring in the resolution were Associate Justices Remedios Salazar-Fernando and Normandie Pizarro.


Janet Lim-Napoles herself, the supposed mastermind of the fund scam, could not touch her bank accounts after the CA in August issued a similar freeze order against her bank and investment assets, and those of her family, employees, and supposed non-government organizations. —KG/HS, GMA News

Philippines Tax Authority Seized Million Dollar Properties of Manny Pacquiao “Lien” to lease or sell; closing evading establishments

Manny Pacquiao Forbes House. Photo from


Arum blames BIR in tax mess


Philippine Internal Revenue authorities demanded that boxing great Emmanuel "Manny" D. Pacquiao pay a 2.2-billion tax bill or risk having assets seized, but the national hero vowed to take the fight to court.


The battle between one of the best boxers in history and the tax bureau has shocked his army of fans in the Philippines, emerging just days after a comeback win in the ring was hailed as a moment of hope amid the aftermath of a deadly typhoon.


Mr. Pacquiao disclosed  that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) wanted 2.2 billion for alleged unpaid taxes in 2008 and 2009, when he was at the peak of his career and one of the world's highest-earning athletes.


Mr. Pacquiao, 34, insisted he had paid his taxes in the United States, and so did not need to do so in the Philippines because the two countries have an agreement allowing their citizens to avoid double taxation.


But tax commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares, who has spearheaded a high-profile campaign against tax evasion in the Philippines, stood firm yesterday, saying Mr. Pacquiao had failed for two years to provide documents proving his US payments.


"2.2 billion is what [Mr.]Pacquiao owes now because of surcharges and interest," Ms. Henares said on ABS-CBN television.


Ms. Henares said the tax bill may be cut if Mr. Pacquiao did provide certified documents proving he paid the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).


"What we want is evidence that he (Mr. Pacquiao) actually paid the tax."


But she said that even if he had paid the 30% tax rate in the United States, there would still be extra charges due in the Philippines because it had a higher rate of 32%.


The tax office has frozen his bank accounts in the Philippines, which Mr. Pacquiao said had left him financially paralyzed.


Ms. Henares said the tax office could eventually take the money owed by stripping him of his assets.


She said the tax office had already placed a "lien" on a Pacquiao property, worth millions of dollars, in one of Manila's most exclusive gated communities.


A lien is a form of security which allows the tax office to take back money it is owed, via lease payments or sale of the property.




Mr. Pacquiao went on a publicity blitz on Tuesday night, appearing on all the major domestic television networks, to insist on his innocence and brand the tax office's actions "harassment."


"I am not a criminal or a thief. I am not hiding anything. I will face my problems as they come," Mr. Pacquiao said.


Mr. Pacquiao's American promoter Robert "Bob" Arum, chief executive of Top Rank Promotions, also released a statement saying his Top Rank firm had paid the 30% taxes directly to the US Internal Revenue Service, and certified paperwork to show proof would be available "very soon."


"Filipino authorities confirmed that [Mr. Pacquiao] is not required to pay double tax," Mr. Arum said in a statement.


"If [Mr. Pacquiao] paid US taxes for fights and endorsements that occurred on US soil, he is not required to pay double taxes in the Philippines," he added.


He added that Top Rank has deposit confirmations for each payment made and that the boxing agency has done the same for all US endorsements it has facilitated on Mr. Pacquiao's behalf.


Mr. Arum, in the same statement noted, however, that BIR officials wanted certified paperwork of those transactions from the IRS rather than bank deposit confirmations.


"Top Rank submitted copies of the EFT deposit acknowledgements to the BIR as proof of payment. The BIR has received the documents but directed [Mr. Pacquiao] to obtain 'certified' documents directly from the IRS itself," he said.


"Obtaining certified copies of documents from the IRS takes time. Manny made the formal request to the IRS and we have every expectation that the necessary documents will be furnished to the BIR very soon," Mr. Arum added.


But Mr. Pacquiao's Manila lawyer told AFP yesterday that he would not give the tax office those documents, preferring instead to fight the issue in court.


"This is no longer within the jurisdiction of the BIR," lawyer Tranquil Salvador said.


"The tax case is now with the Court of Tax Appeals. We do not have to submit anything to the BIR." A court hearing has been set for Dec. 5.


Mr. Pacquiao, a former street kid who did not finish high school, has used his sporting career to launch a successful political career -- he is a second-term congressman with publicly declared ambitions of eventually becoming president.


Mr. Pacquiao, a member of the main opposition alliance to President Benigno S. C. Aquino III, hinted the case against him may be political, calling for those involved to "forget about playing politics."


At his peak Mr. Pacquiao was regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, becoming the only man to win world titles in eight weight divisions.


He lost two fights last year, leading some to predict his career was finished.


But a convincing win over American Brandon Rios in Macau on Sunday reignited his career, sparking talk once again of a long-awaited bout against Floyd Mayweather.


BIR orders 2 Pasig firms closed


Published in Business World Online, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has ordered the closure of two establishments in Ortigas Center, Pasig City, after they allegedly underdeclared their income to cut back on taxes.


Events place JCM Exhibit Depot, located at Mega Plaza, ADB Avenue corner Garnet Road, as well as Baldo Construction and Development Corp., in PSEC West Tower, Exchange Road, were shuttered on Friday, the BIR said in a statement.


JCM Exhibit Depot is owned by event's organizer Carlo Naguit Martin. The BIR said the firm failed to file its income tax and value-added tax (VAT) returns for 2011, underdeclaring all of its earnings for that year, estimated at 57.068 million.


Baldo Construction, headed by Christopher A. Baldo, is engaged in general contracting for roads and buildings, counting among its clients the San Miguel group of companies. It allegedly underdeclared its 2011 taxable sales by more than 40%, disclosing only 15.413 million.


"The closures were effected after the subject taxpayers failed to comply with the requirements specified in the 48-hour Notice and the 5-day VAT Compliance Notice..." the BIR said in the statement.


The tax bureau has been shutting down establishments that violate the National Internal Revenue Code under its Oplan Kandado program. It is the main revenue collection agency of the government, accounting for some 70% of revenues.


The BIR is mandated to collect a total of 1.253 trillion in revenues this year. As of October, it has netted P993.54 billion. – Business World Online / AFP with Imee Charlee C. Delavin

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Philippines Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Violates and Bypass the Supreme Court’s power to Freeze Pacqiao’s Bank Accounts

WHY ME? Professional boxer and Sarangani Rep Manny Pacquiao cries foul over a Court of Tax Appeal order to freeze his bank accounts. File photo by Rappler


Philippines Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Violates and Bypass the Supreme Court's power to Freeze Pacqiao's Bank Accounts


Manny Pacquiao says bank accounts frozen over 2.2-B tax evasion case


Two days after his dramatic boxing comeback in Macau, Manny Pacquiao faced a more formidable opponent at home, after his bank accounts were reportedly frozen in relation to a P2.2-billion tax case.


Saying that even thieves are better treated by the government, the boxing champion said that he will have to borrow money to help Yolanda victims. Pacquiao is expected to visit Leyte this week.


"Inihabla po ako ng BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) ng 2.2-billion tax case na wala pong basehan," Pacquiao said in a press briefing Tuesday.


"Huwag po sana akong i-single out at personalin dahil hindi po ako magnanakaw," Pacquiao added, noting he "worked hard" to earn his assets.


After returning to the Philippines with his boxing career back on the upswing after a victory over American Brandon Rios on Sunday in Macau, Pacquiao was greeted with a news report that his assets were frozen.


On Tuesday, the Manila Bulletin newspaper reported that the Court of Tax Appeals' (CTA) First Division issued the order two weeks ago, but it only became known on Monday.


According to the Manila Bulletin, the tax case stemmed from the supposed failure of Pacquiao's accountant to report in his income tax returns (ITR) the multi-million-dollar taxes collected by the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from his prize winnings for the years 2008 to 2009, reportedly amounting to $28 million.


What freeze order?


But in a separate interview with GMA News Online on Tuesday, Margaret Guzman, CTA clerk of court, denied that the CTA First Division – which handles the boxing icon's tax case – issued such a freeze order.


Guzman said the tax court is indeed hearing a tax evasion case against Pacquiao filed by the BIR last August 1, but has not yet issued any order to freeze the boxer's bank accounts.


The case stems from a BIR assessment that alleged the Pacquiaos had incurred "deficiency income and value-added tax" from 2008 to 2009, worth P2.2 billion.

"It wasn't the court that froze the accounts of spouses Pacquiao, contrary to the news," Guzman said, adding that the news reports were probably referring to an order issued by the BIR to the banks.


"The BIR has the power to issue warrants of garnishment separate and distinct from a court order freezing accounts," Guzman said.

She said the Pacquiaos filed a motion last October 18 to lift the said "warrants of distraint and levy, and garnishment."


Guzman said the CTA is set to resume its proceedings for the tax case on December 5, during which it would hear the counter evidence to be presented by government against Pacquiao's motion to lift the warrant of garnishment.


The CTA First Division is chaired by presiding Justice Roman del Rosario.


Thieves get away


Pacquiao said he provided information on his income to the BIR, but the bureau ignored it.


"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," Pacquiao said.


"Hindi naman ako tumatakas. Alam nila yung ginagawa nila," Pacquiao added, implying that he felt he was a victim of politicking.


Pacquiao commented on how those engaged in corruption in government get away with their sins, while he is being persecuted.


"Nagpabugbog ako, kumita ako, kinuha ng gobyerno. Pero pag nagnakaw ka [di naman nakakasuhan.] Wala pa akong nakitang nagnakaw ng marami, pero na-garnish lahat ng pera," he said.


The solon said he is mulling over the idea of asking for help from his compatriots in the House of Representatives to issue a resolution to dismiss his case.


Revenue officials noted that Pacquiao, a Filipino citizen and congressional representative of Sarangani province, is required to declare in his ITR all his earnings.


Pacquiao's lawyers countered that the boxer did not include remittances to IRS worth around $8.4 million in his income statement due to existing treaty between the Philippines and the United States that disallows double taxation, the report noted.


The boxer added that the BIR order was "arbitrary" and its assessment unreasonable as it is greater than the boxing champ's net worth.


But the BIR argued the tax debts have become "demandable... and collectible," as Pacquiao has been ignoring a final assessment notice sent to him.


"Kasama 'yung properties ko [sa garnishment]. 'Di natin magagalaw [ang mga ito]," Pacquiao said during the press briefing.


The boxer, who was preparing to visit the typhoon-devastated city of Tacloban, said he borrowed money for the relief operations.


"Umutang po ako ng pera upang makatulong sa mga nasalanta ng bagyo dahil ginarnish ng BIR ang aking bank accounts," Pacquiao said.


"Huwag po kayong mag-alala diyan sa Tacloban. Darating at darating ako kahit mangutang ako ulit. Naghahanda pa po kami," he added.




Not harassment


Malacañang, meanwhile, distanced itself from the issue.


"We are a government of laws not of men. The Internal Revenue Code provides for procedures on collection so this matter is best addressed by the Court of Tax Appeals," Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) head Herminio Coloma Jr. said during a press conference on Tuesday.


"Harassment is not in our agenda... CTA's action is in accordance with Internal Revenue Code. Citizens may avail themselves of appropriate legal remedies," the Palace official added.


Pacquaio was the 36th top tax payer in 2012, paying a toal of 22 million in income tax, BIR data showed. He ranked 158th for paying P6.1 million in income taxes in 2011.


In 2008, Pacquiao paid over 125 million in income tax, making him the top taxpayer that year.


Pacquiao's tax payments declined to some 7 million in 2009 and 9.190 million in 2010, BIR data also showed.


– with reports from and by Mark Merueñas/ Patricia Denise Chiu/Kimberly Jane Tan/Siegfrid O. Alegado/VS/HS, GMA News

Philippine Internal Revenue Bureau frozen bank accounts of boxing hero Pacquiao for tax evasion case

Manny Pacquiao punches Brandon Rios in their welterweight boxing bout in Macau

Philippine boxing hero Pacquiao floored in tax fight


Philippine boxing hero Manny Pacquiao said Tuesday authorities had frozen all his domestic bank accounts over allegations of unpaid taxes from lucrative fights in the United States, leaving him financially paralyzed.


"This is harassment," the former eight-division world champion said in an interview on ABS-CBN television, as he disclosed for the first time a freeze order issued by the Philippines' Bureau of Internal Revenue in recent months.


The shock announcement came just two days after Pacquiao, 34, resurrected his boxing career with a unanimous point's decision over American Brandon Rios in Macau.


The victory, which Pacquiao dedicated to the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan that claimed thousands of lives in the Philippines this month, added to his lustre among millions of ordinary Filipinos.


Pacquiao is now eyeing more lucrative fights in the United States. He is also pursuing a political career in the Philippines, where he is a second-term congressman with ambitions of eventually becoming president.


Pacquiao said the tax office took the action because it believed he had evaded paying 2.2 billion pesos ($50.2 million) in taxes on his fights in the United States in 2008 and 2009 when he was at the peak of his career and earning tens of millions of dollars.


He said he had already paid taxes on those earnings in the United States, which has a treaty with the Philippines that allows citizens of both countries to avoid double taxation.


However, he said the tax bureau had rejected the documents he provided to prove he had already paid the US Internal Revenue Service.


"I am not a criminal or a thief. I am not hiding anything. I will face my problems as they come," Pacquiao said.


"I have already paid my taxes in America. Had I not paid the correct taxes they (US authorities) would have come after me and I would not have been able to travel there."


Philippine taxman hits back


The Philippine tax bureau confirmed the local bank accounts of Pacquiao and his wife Jinkee had been frozen.


However tax commissioner Kim Henares denied any harassment, saying only two bank accounts containing a total of 1.1 million pesos were frozen.


"Don't tell me he only has 1.1 million pesos. Where is the rest of (his) money? I have no idea. It has not been garnished (seized)," she told AFP.


Only two domestic banks reported holding Pacquiao's accounts, Henares said.


She said Pacquiao had failed to submit the proper documents proving he paid taxes in the United States.


Tax officials gave Pacquiao two years to respond to their assessment but all he submitted was a letter from his US promoter Top Rank saying he had paid his taxes in the United States, according to Henares.


"This is a mere scrap of paper. Anyone can write that," she said.


Henares said she could not understand why the wealthy sports hero was bringing up the tax dispute now.


"Maybe he should hire better lawyers and accountants," she added.


The Pacquiaos have asked the Court of Tax Appeals to lift the bank freeze, but it has yet to rule on the couple's petition, according to court papers released to the media.


President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Herminio Coloma brushed off suggestions Pacquiao was being singled out for political harassment.


"We are a government of laws, not of men," Coloma told reporters.


The government has been running a campaign against high-profile tax evaders, targeting movie stars as well as businessmen who flaunt their wealth through flashy sports cars.


Pacquiao said most of his cash was kept in the Philippine bank accounts. He did not say how much had been garnished.


He said the freeze order had left him without money to pay his staff, and forced him to borrow "not less than one million pesos" to fulfil pledges to help victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan.


At his peak Pacquiao was regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, becoming the only man to win world titles in eight weight divisions.


The former street kid who ran away from home to pursue a boxing career became one of the globe's wealthiest athletes.


But his career nosedived after suffering two losses last year, the second in a humiliating knockout to Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez that prompted questions over whether the ageing warrior should retire.


But even last year, Forbes magazine listed him as the 14th highest-paid athlete globally with an estimated $34 million in earnings.  AFP News


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