by Charles Jay
Manny Pacquiao may be an elected member of Congress in the Philippines, but he seems uncomfortable these days in being treated, by some of the current powers-that-be, more like a public official with responsibility to a certain degree of transparency than an athletic icon who can more or less write his own rules.
Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank
But he has enlisted what is being termed a “battery of attorneys” in trying to enforce the latter for a little while longer. One of those attorneys , Artemio Tuquero, a former Justice Secretary is also one of the lawyers for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the former President of the Philippines, who is facing criminal charges of electoral fraud.
It looks he will sue on a “graft and corruption” basis, alleging, among other things, that he is being singled out for political reasons.
Not to get too complicated about it, but Pacquiao was a favorite of the Arroyo administration, and is not such a big favorite of the current administration of President Benigno Aquino III. He made a call to Aquino in an attempt get Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to fire official Rozil Lozares for having the unmitigated gall to file a criminal complaint against him. Pacquiao is being charged with failure to produce documents that are necessary for the BIR to determine how much he owes in taxes.
Pacquiao has also tried to steamroll another man he perceives to be his adversary – journalist Edwin Espejo – who published stories related to a fugitive car-jacker that did not put the boxing champion in a positive light.
Pacquiao’s position is that his name is being damaged by the BIR investigation to the extent that he is losing endorsements, because the BIR is painting him as a tax evader.
The BIR insists that there is nothing of the sort going on. In fact, Kim Henares, the commissioner of the BIR, has stated over and over that her agency is not pursuing Pacquiao as a tax evader, but rather someone who is evading THEM. In other words, he has failed to comply with a “letter of authority” which has requested certain documents that will help them accurately ascertain exactly what Pacquiao owes. They want to audit him, and he is trying to resist, basically. It is, in effect, a contempt charge, because he has, according to them, repeatedly ignored their requests.
“If Mr. Pacquiao is not hiding something, then he should submit all the documents required by the BIR. He is a lawmaker and we expect him to respect the law. We are just doing our mandate under the RA 2484 or the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC),” Lozares said.
Pacquiao has used, as the major basis for the action he wants to file, the proposition that he has lost opportunities for endorsements with at least four major companies, and that all of it can be traced back to the talk surrounding his tax problems.
Henares says that is ridiculous. “The congressman himself is the one fueling the controversy,” she told the Philippine Inquirer. We are only answering questions.”
Those questions, by the way, came from a curious media, naturally, at a press conference Henares insists was not called for the sole purposes of embarrassing Pacquiao, as is the claim.
At such time as a court case took place and Pacquiao continued to assert that the controversy in the Philippines has damaged his good name in the ancillary income arena, he would be expected, one presumes, to produce the four endorsements that have gone south for him and establish a genuine link between that and the current BIR case. The “no comment” route over which companies those are will not carry the day; they’ll most likely have to provide documentation as well.