Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao should “walk the talk,” Malacañang said Thursday after the boxer-senator’s previous tax evasion case was brought up by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque backed the President’s statement that Pacquiao’s multibillion-peso tax deficiencies for years 2008 and 2009 is indeed a “form of corruption”.
“You have to walk the talk. If you are against corruption, why did you fail to pay the right taxes, which is really a form of corruption because you are, at the same time, a public officer,” Roque said in an online press briefing on Thursday.
In a taped meeting with Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) executives and government officials aired on Wednesday, Duterte said Pacquiao should also be considered as a “corrupt” public official for having a total of P2.2 billion underpayment in taxes.
Duterte’s fresh tirade against Pacquiao came amid their apparent tiff that stemmed from the senator’s claim that corruption in government persists.
In 2013, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) lodged a tax evasion case against Pacquiao and his wife Jinkee for alleged tax deficiencies in 2008 and 2009.
The BIR claimed Pacquiao had a total of P2.26-billion underpaid taxes for 2008 and 2009, including those for his earnings in his boxing matches overseas.
Pacquiao’s total tax liabilities blew up to P3.29 billion due to penalties and surcharges.
However, the senator in 2018 won a favorable ruling from the Court of Tax Appeals.
The tax court’s First Division in July 2018 ordered the Bureau of Internal Revenue to stop its collection of the multi-billion-peso tax deficiency against Pacquiao and his wife, Jinkee, for years 2008 and 2009 while their civil case remained pending.
The CTA also lifted the warrants of distraint and/or levy and garnishment on the disputed tax assessments pending the finality of the case.
Roque said Duterte’s latest verbal attack against Pacquiao is not a form of “revenge.”
“That’s not a revenge. That’s a case filed before the BIR. That’s why the President is asking him if he is really anti-corruption,” he said.
Duterte earlier challenged Pacquiao to expose corruption in government by identifying offices involved in irregularities.
In response, Pacquiao named the departments of social welfare, health, energy, and environment as corrupt-ridden agencies.
Duterte, while he admitted that he could not stop the irregularities within government offices “overnight,” said he is trying his “very best” to stop corruption.