By Charles Jay
Manny Pacquiao may have formulated a pretty good (in his mind) reason why he has been asked to provide information about his income to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in the Philippines.
Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank
Somebody has a political vendetta against him.
Pacquiao’s latest is that he is being punished for his failure to sign the articles of impeachment against the Chief Justice of the Philippines Supreme Court, Renato Corona, a long-time ally and associate of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and that he is paying the price for it.
This argument was advanced by Senator Joker Arroyo, who recognized that 188 members of the House of Representatives signed these articles, while Pacquiao did not.
“You look at the articles of impeachment. Pacquiao’s name is not among those who signed,” Sen. Arroyo said in one published statement. “When I first read the news that he is being investigated by the BIR, I immediately checked with the Senate officers who have a copy of the complaint. He was not a signatory. Probably he was absent that day or whatever.”
In point of fact, Pacquiao was absent (his attendance record is one of the worst in Congress), as were some other lawmakers, so there is a reasonable doubt as to whether there is a causative link between one thing and another. But it would be fair to say that current President Benigno Aquino would not be so sad to see Corona go.
To summarize without getting too esoteric about it, Justice Corona, the former chief of staff for President Arroyo, was appointed as Chief Justice just two days after Aquino was elected and right before Arroyo was to leave office.
There were numerous reasons why Corona found himself subject to the impeachment; one of which was that he did not file his statement of assets and liabilities properly, as public officials must do; that he betrayed the public trust by rendering decisions extremely favorable to Arroyo while he was an associate justice, and many other charges, to say the least.
The 188 signatures in the House were way more than needed, and Corona is currently on trial in the Senate, and has been for over a month. It is about as big as a political story can get.
Needless to say, if Pacquiao didn’t sign the impeachment articles, he was not going to curry favor with Aquino.
Okay, so Pacquiao may be getting the squeeze put on him. News flash – welcome to politics. As Hyman Roth of “The Godfather: Part II” said to Michael Corleone, “This is the business we’ve chosen.”
PacMan knew what he was getting into, didn’t he?
One would think so.
Still, some of his fellow legislators are certainly of the opinion that he is being singled out.
Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, who refers to Pacquiao as a “contemporary hero,” believes that the BIR may be looking to turn this into a circus. “What makes this so disturbing is that its officials are acting like credit card collectors who threaten, humiliate and consider all sorts of methods just to collect,” he wrote in a statement. “What if they were wrong? Would sorry be enough?”
Then, with perhaps a more balanced view, there is Sen. Francis Escudero, who recognizes that Pacquiao has rights under the law but also a higher obligation for accountability because of his position as a publicly-elected official.
“Pacman can file a case against the BIR official who he thinks is harassing him. But he still has the obligation to submit the documents being asked of him,” Escudero told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “As a public official, he has the obligation to show the people that he can comply with government requirements. If the BIR committed an error, at least his documents would become strong evidence that he is really being harassed.. 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. This is a good opportunity for Pacquiao to show that everyone is equal under the law.”