THE P203 billion which presidential candidate Isko Moreno Domagoso and retired justice Antonio Carpio have been alleging are “unpaid estate taxes” the Marcoses owe government will go down in our political and media history as one of the most preposterous lies to have ever been given some attention. Thanks of course again to the virulent anti-Marcos Philippine Daily Inquirer and Rappler — the only two media outfits that’ve been screaming over it.
This “estate tax” brouhaha was concocted in a desperate move to breathe some life into candidate Moreno’s dying campaign; he has gone to town to disseminate that cock and bull story. However, by spreading the lie, Moreno has definitively demonstrated he is totally unfit to be president: he is either so gullible to believe the yarn invented by the ever-scheming Carpio or so unprincipled to spread something he himself knows is a fallacy.
That this is a colossal fabrication is easily gleaned from the fact that among the alleged Marcos assets on which the estate taxes were levied include stocks in San Miguel Corp. and Manila Bulletin, and shares of the late drug tycoon J.Y. Campos as well as such properties as Fort Ilocandia, the Coconut Palace, and the sugar lands of Roberto S. Benedicto in Negros. Why on earth would the Marcoses pay estate taxes on these?
Yes, Mr. Dumb candidate, these “unpaid estate taxes” include assets which the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) had sequestered in the 1980s. Many of these were ordered by the courts to be returned to their owners (in the San Miguel case, to Edgardo Cojuangco), or which the owner had surrendered to government, which then auctioned shares sold many decades ago.
As the current PCGG clarified on March 22 when Moreno’s party asked about this “unpaid estate taxes”: When the Cory government sequestered these assets, it “legally laid claim to them [and are in custodial legis],” and therefore beyond the Marcos rights over and liabilities arising from them. Even if the Marcoses wanted to pay the alleged estate taxes, their being in government’s custodial legis bars them from doing so.
The PCGG also disclosed in its letter that there was a “verbal agreement” in 2003 between it and the BIR to determine which among the properties the latter wanted to levy estate taxes on were sequestered and which were not. The PCGG and the BIR never got around to doing that chore, understandably as there were 300 lots and over 200 companies/shares in corporations the latter had levied estate taxes on. (more…)