MANILA, Philippines – Though the Prieto family has allowed the government to take over its Mile Long property and has sold its shares in the Philippine Daily Inquirer to businessman Ramon Ang, for President Rodrigo Duterte, they're not yet off the hook.
Duterte, on Tuesday, January 16, said he would eventually file "plunder" charges against them.
"One of these days, I’ll file a plunder case. When I file a plunder case, you will go to jail without a bail. You'll see, you fools," he said during a media interview in Pasay City.
He did not elaborate on how the Prietos are guilty of plunder, a crime defined in the Philippines' plunder laws as the amassing of ill-gotten wealth worth at least P50 million through criminal acts by a public officer. A person who connives with a public officer, even if they are not one themselves, may also be punished for plunder.
But he resurrected his previous accusations against the Prieto family: that they were cheating the government by retaining control over the Mile Long property in Makati without paying the proper taxes.
"You have been plundering government with your non-payment of taxes and hanging on to the property of government way beyond the years of the contract you’re supposed to relinquish the property," said Duterte in a speech before the interview.
The President also claimed former Bureau of Internal Revenue chief Kim Henares reduced the amount of taxes the Prietos were required to pay, from billions to millions.
"This Henares, from a billion taxes – Why don’t you trace that up? When it got to Henares, it became just P8 million," said Duterte.
The Prietos, he alleged, only use their power as media company owners, to "cover" their supposed misdeeds.
While denying he was out to curtail press freedom, the President also told Rappler and Inquirer they were "going overboard," and advised media to tone down their critical reporting. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.