Pacquiao bank deposits frozen
Boxing Icon To Visit Typhoon-Ravaged Areas
Manila, Philippines – Boxing idol Manny Pacquiao, who scored a unanimous victory over American Brandon Rios in their World Boxing Organization (WBO) international welterweight title fight last Sunday in Macau, suffered a setback at home when the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) ordered his bank deposits frozen over a P2.2-billion tax case.
The tax court’s First Division issued the freeze order some two weeks ago but it was only known yesterday, a day after Pacquiao’s emphatic win. The boxing icon’s lawyers had earlier protested before the CTA the warrant of garnishment (WG) issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), attaching his personal assets that included his bank deposits.
The BIR normally issues WG to prevent delinquent taxpayers facing court suits from disposing of his or her assets during the trial.
US Income Unreported
The tax case arose from the alleged 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.
Pacquiao said the assessment, which included interests and surcharges, was “arbitrary,” stressing he could not afford to pay the assessment because it was more than his net worth.
BIR lawyers said, however, that the tax debts have become “demandable, executor, and collectible” because the solon allegedly ignored to answer the final assessment notice (FAN) sent to him, which expired 30 days after receipt as provided for in the Tax Code.
Revenue officials explained that as a Filipino citizen, Pacquiao, a congressman representing Sarangani province, is required to declare in his ITR all his earnings, including those derived from abroad.
$28M Earned In 2008, 2009
Records show that the boxing icon earned more than $28 million in prize money for successfully defending his various titles against Juan Manuel, David Rios, Oscar de la Hoja in 2008, and Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto in 2009.
Of the amount, the IRS collected $8.4 million or roughly about P395 million.
Pacquiao declared he did not include remittances to IRS in his returns due to the existing bilateral tax treaty agreement between Manila and Washington, which stipulates that income tax paid by Filipinos in the US is creditable against his income tax liabilities here.
He added that what he remitted to the BIR was the value-added tax (VAT) amounting to P12 million to cover P114 million earnings from endorsing at least 14 products.
He argued that the BIR assessment has no legal force because it was based on “best obtainable sources.”
He accused revenue probers of ignoring the financial reports submitted by his promoter, Top Rank Promotions and other actual transaction documents, relying only on the so-called “best obtainable evidence rule.”
Typhoon Area Visit
Pacquiao has pledged to visit the areas worst hit by typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) in the next few days.
“I think it’s time. I promised them after the fight I will go to Tacloban to visit them,” he said.
Pacquiao added his camp was still working out details for him to travel to the capital of Leyte province, but he would be there in a matter of days.
“As soon as possible we will finalize what day, what date,” he said.
At the time Pacquiao was in training camp in General Santos City further south, which escaped the brunt of the typhoon, he had to be talked out of leaving to help with the relief effort by his trainer Freddie Roach.
“It was very difficult for me, I felt so bad for what happened to everybody in the Visayas area,” Pacquiao told a post-fight press conference on Sunday.
“It was the middle of my heaviest training in camp and I wanted to visit but I couldn’t.
“So I was just praying for them and sent my staff in congress and also my people in General Santos to bring them help and relief goods.
“This fight was for the families and the people affected by the typhoon – I am just happy that God answered my prayer.”
For a brief moment in the devastated city of Tacloban, those who lost their homes, their livelihoods and loved ones in the storm were able to forget their misery as they watched a free, live broadcast of Pacquiao’s stunning win.
“This is not about my comeback,” Pacquiao said immediately after the fight. “This is about my people’s comeback from a natural disaster and a natural tragedy.
“To all the people and the families affected by the typhoon, I will see you there. I love you so much,” he added.
Mario Penaflor, 41, was among the crowds in watching in Tacloban. “This is a win for all Filipinos. It will surely uplift our spirits, especially the victims of typhoon,” he said.
Lawmakers and religious leaders lauded Pacquiao for his victory.
Sen. Grace Poe filed yesterday Senate Resolution No. 380 congratulating Pacquiao for winning the WBO title, while the House of Representatives leadership is rolling out the red carpet to welcome the hero of the boxing world.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. led congressmen in congratulating Pacquiao for the successful ring assignment.
“A proud nation thanks Manny for offering this fight and winning it for our countrymen who were victims of super-typhoon ‘Yolanda’ and being their symbol of hope during this huge national tragedy. Manny has been a living example of Filipino resiliency by this significant victory and comeback against a much younger opponent,” said Belmonte.
Representatives Lito Atienza (Buhay Partylist) and Alfredo Benitez (LP, Negros Occidental) said Pacquiao deserves a hero’s welcome.
“Manny has again, like he has done before, to deliver at the right time when we are at our lowest spirits. We appreciate Manny’s contribution in boosting the morale of our countrymen,” Atienza said.
Benitez, who is leading the Visayas Legislative Bloc in its relief operations for typhoon Yolanda victims, said Pacquiao deserves a third commendation from the Lower House.
Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao, together with Reps. Dan Fernandez (LP, Laguna); Agapito Guanlao (Ang Butil) and Em Aglipay (DIWA Partylist) and Emil Ong Sur); Francisco Acedillo (Magdalo) and Tobias Tiangco (UNA, Navotas), expects typhoon victims to draw inspiration from Pacquiao and never lose hope despite their predicament.
Senior administration Rep. Rufus Rodriguez noted that Pacquiao’s latest win indicate that his fellow Mindanaoan solon will be back “on track for undisputed greatness.”
True Heart Of A Filipino
Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga, spokesman of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, said Pacquiao has “exemplified the true heart of the Filipino.”
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said he will convince Pacquiao to hold his next bout in the Philippines not just to boost the country’s tourism, but also to give chance to all Filipinos to personally see him fight.
On the other hand, Fr. Conegundo Garganta, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Youth, lauded Pacquiao not only for winning his fight but also for showing to the world what a real champion is.
“The interest that he shows in serving the country, helping the people who are in need are just some of the positive things about him that people can draw inspiration from, not only the youth,” Garganta said in an interview. (With reports from AFP, Ben R. Rosario, Mario B. Casayuran, and Charissa M. Luci)