Mighty Corp owners not yet off the hook – Panelo
MANILA, Philippines – Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer of a compromise, Mighty Corporation owners Alex and Caesar Wongchuking may still face charges for their alleged use of fake tax stamps.
This is how Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo interpreted Duterte’s offer for him to “forget” about the accusations against the Wongchukings if they pay the government P3 billion or P5 billion, to make up for the P1.5 billion in taxes they did not pay.
“What that means is, ‘pay all your debts to government before we can talk.’ But it doesn’t mean they won’t be prosecuted,” said Panelo on Friday, March 10, during an interview with media.
For the Wongchukings to be able to settle their debt without facing charges, they will have to fulfill certain qualifications.
“They might not even be qualified to compromise because, under the law, there has to be reasonable doubt in the claim against them or there should be no fraud in their violations. If there is fraud, they aren’t qualified,” he said.
Panelo said Duterte, a lawyer, is aware of these requirements and will respect them.
“Under the law, there are requirements and the President is aware of that. He will always follow what the law says,” said Panelo.
It’s also possible that the President is willing to put behind them the possible civil case against the Wongchuking brothers, but not the possible criminal case.
He said Duterte might also change his mind if he hears that the Wongchukings owe the government even more than P1.5 billion.
The President, on Tuesday, March 7, ordered the arrest of the Mighty Corporation owners for “economic sabotage” for allegedly using fake cigarette tax stamps.
The BOC had earlier said that it was eyeing a P1-billion tax evasion case against the company.
The day Duterte ordered the arrest of the Mighty Corporation owners, Alex Wongchuking met with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and National Bureau of Investigation Director Dante Gierran over the allegations, and vowed to cooperate with authorities.
The company has denied smuggling and tax evasion allegations. (READ: Mighty Corp blames 'malfunctioning' BIR devices for 'fake' stamps) – Rappler.com
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