MANILA, Philippines – The apparent online word war between Kris Aquino and Gretchen Barretto appears to be far from over, with the “Queen of All Media” issuing a statement, through her lawyers, to deny the latter’s allegations.
Gretchen had accused Kris of meddling in the alleged tax cases of a businesswoman during the presidency of Benigno Aquino III, Kris’ older brother.
“We reiterate that our client did not and will never aid, abet, or tolerate any tax evasion by anyone,” said Kris’ lawyers.
Gretchen is not explicitly named in the statement issued by Divina Law, which represents Kris. Instead, the statement posted on Kris’ social media accounts on Sunday, January 20, was addressed to “some social media users’ malicious allegations against Ms Kris Aquino.”
The statement itself, however, addressed allegations Gretchen had earlier made when she went live on her social media pages.
The apparent tiff between Kris and Gretchen is an offshoot of a legal war Kris has waged against her former business partner Nicko Falcis. Gretchen, seemingly out of nowhere, expressed support for Nicko in his case against Kris.
Kris, in an online live broadcast, said Gretchen’s issue against her may have had something to do with a certain Alice Eduardo.
In turn, Gretchen claimed that Alice Eduardo, whom she considers a friend, had gotten out of tax trouble because of Kris.
“She (Alice Eduardo) was being charged with hundreds of millions or billions and Kris Aquino helped by tapping Kim Henares, if I’m not mistaken, so the fee would be lower. That’s what happened,” said Gretchen in a mix of English and Filipino. Kim Henares headed the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) when Kris’ brother was president.
Kris, in her own earlier live broadcast, seemingly refused to address Gretchen’s statements, dismissing them as mere meddling.
In the January 20 statement, Kris’ lawyers categorically denied any alleged intervention on behalf of Alice Eduardo “in any pending case.”
“Our client (Kris) is a friend of Ms Eduardo for 7 years already, and she knows her to be a law-abiding citizen. However, the personal relationship of our client with Ms Eduardo does not extend to her business interests,” Kris’ lawyers said, emphasizing that the TV personality has always made it a point to pay the proper taxes herself.
From 2009 to 2015, Kris has been among the country’s top taxpayers, based on BIR data.
“Individuals using social media to cause unjust vexation against our client, Ms Aquino, should first do their due diligence when levying accusations about tax compliance, especially when they are not a party to any of the cases filed by our client, or those filed against our client,” the lawyers said.
Eduardo, according to a Philippine Tatler profile, is the founder and head of Sta Elena Construction and Development Corporation.
“Sta Elena has grown into a serious player in the market: an AAA and Large B firm, which means it qualifies to bid for any billion-peso project,” the Tatler profile noted. – Rappler.com
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