by Charles Jay
Another twist came up this past week in the Manny Pacquiao tax case – the claim that when the BIR did serve their “letter of authority” to him, it was received by someone named “Jocelyn Nobria,” who Pacquiao says he does not know. Whether he’s trying to assert that she was a “plant” from an enemy camp and didn’t receive the documents because of that, we’re not really sure.
Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank
Did she hide the BIR’s requests? Throw them in the garbage?
Kim Henares, the BIR Commissioner, scoffs at the notion that it was part of anything untoward, and asks the question, “If he did not know the person who received the letter, how could he be sending his lawyer and his accountant to our office? That means he knows the person.”
Look, let’s face it – whether Pacquiao knew of the letter of authority from the government shortly after they were served to one of his offices or not, he has had ample time in between to address something that would seem so simple to address.
And that hasn’t happened yet.
The “Jocelyn Nobria defense,” or, depending on how you look at it, “offense,” is really nothing but a ruse; a deflection. Boxing fans should hope he doesn’t try to win his upcoming fight with Timothy Bradley on such a technicality.
When you take all the smokescreens and put them aside, this comes down to something that is as fundamental now as it was at the very beginning of the inquiry: that the BIR has requested documents and they have not been provided by the party it has requested it from (Pacquiao). Everything else is B.S.
Henares has said that if Pacquiao simply handed over the documents, the controversy would be over, and the agency would be able to make a proper assessment.
Of course, Pacquiao’s business enterprises in the Philippines are a focus of interest; this includes his restaurant, beauty salon, shopping mall and convenience store, among other things.
It also includes money for his fights during the year 2010; we are talking specifically about those bouts with Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito. Pacquiao says that he has already paid taxes on those fights, in the United States. And he may well be perfectly correct on that claim. There is a Philippine-U.S. tax treaty that would protect Pacquiao against double taxation. However, he still must show documentation that he has fulfilled that obligation in the U.S., and the BIR claims that he hasn’t even done that.
All they want are the documents. They have asked more than once; more than twice, in fact. Pacquiao has had plenty of time to provide them. Yes, you could argue, looking at this on the surface, that some confusion may have come from the change in accountants Pacquiao made last year, which caused some real animosity and a lawsuit to boot. But he has also had time to straighten a lot of that out.
Are the documents being requested from Pacquiao superfluous to the case? Are they not necessary for the BIR to go about its business? Is it unjust to ask for the papers? If not, then it is a relatively “black and white” issue, is it not? Is what they are asking Pacquiao to do any different than what they might be asking any other individual who they feel may need to be audited? If not, then the argument that he is being “singled out” loses some merit too, based on the fundamentals involved.
And the idea of this “mystery woman” and what involvement she has with any of this doesn’t really change what we have discussed, because the guy EVEN NOW can hand over the documents and put this thing to rest, just as he could have all along. It’s got nothing to do with his “rights,” unless all citizens had the right to withhold documents when they were requested in the case of an audit, and as some of his fellow lawmakers have pointed out, nobody should hold themselves to be outside the law, especially someone who is an elected official.
“Let it not be said that just because he is a congressman, just because he is preparing for a fight, he would be exempt from BIR requirements,” said Senator Francis Escudero, in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “This is a good opportunity for Pacquiao to show that everyone is equal under the law.”
By filing a suit against the BIR and its representatives, Pacquiao may be exercising a option that is afforded to him by law, but you have to wonder whether its purpose is anything other than to allow him to hold onto the documents in question for as long as he possibly can.
Then there’s this interesting comment made by one of PacMan’s attorney’s, Artemio Tuquero, like Pacquiao an associate of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (currently up on charges of electoral fraud), who said in one published report, “This obviously harassment. Imagine asking a taxpayer to submit documents that could be self-incriminatory.” Maybe I’m reading to much into it, or losing something in the translation. Am I? Is Manny Pacquiao going to “take the fifth,” as we would refer to it in the United States?
Maybe it’s time for PacMan to pull out another “card” entirely.
Perhaps he should just tell the BIR to get off his back, by paraphrasing something the Blues Brothers used to say:
“I’m on a mission from God.”