MANILA, Philippines – Ruling party PDP-Laban and its many members in government should be able to ask their presidential candidate of choice to cough up money his family owes the country.
This was the message from the camp of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno on Tuesday, March 22, hours after the Duterte-backed PDP-Laban faction announced its endorsement of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“Bilang magkapartido, siguro naman kaya nilang pagsabihan ‘yung kanilang inendorso bilang susunod na pangulo ng Pilipinas na hilingin naman nila, bakit hindi mo naman bayaran ‘yung estate tax na dineklara na ng Supreme Court with finality and definitely executory,” said Moreno campaign manager Lito Banayo during a press conference.
(As party mates, they should be able to ask the presidential candidate they endorsed, why don’t you pay the estate tax the Supreme Court declared you owe the government with finality and definitely executory?)
Banayo had an appeal to a specific PDP-Laban member: Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez. The Department of Finance, which Dominguez leads, has supervision over the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the government body that collects taxes.
Naming Dominguez, Banayo said, “Siguro naman dapat na ang Department of Finance, utusan na talaga ang BIR na singilin ang P203 bilyon na ito upang maitulong na ayuda sa mga nawalan ng trabaho, at sa transport sektor na naghihirap dahil dito sa krisis.“
(Shouldn’t the Department of Finance already order the BIR to collect the P203 billion that can be used to aid those who lost jobs and the transport sector suffering due to the crisis.)
How far can P203B go?
Banayo, together with Aksyon Demokratiko chairman Ernest Ramel, pounded hard on how much of a lost opportunity the estate tax deficiencies are, if they go uncollected.
“Every Filipino who was jobless during the pandemic, 4.2 million strong, can get P48,333.33 out of P203 billion,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Collecting this huge amount from the Marcoses could be a “legacy” of Duterte’s, added Banayo. Duterte is PDP-Laban chairman.
P203 billion is what the Marcos estate tax debt is worth if you compute the original P23 billion unpaid estate tax, interest, surcharge, and penalties accumulated over the past 25 years since the 1997 Supreme Court decision that affirmed what the Marcoses owe.
Moreno was the first to raise the issue of this mammoth debt during a February 28 press conference. He got back-up during the Commission on Elections debate last Saturday, March 19, when fellow presidential candidates agreed that the Marcoses must pay up.
Isko camp unfazed by PDP-Laban choosing Marcos
Banayo and Ramel said the PDP-Laban faction’s support for Marcos does not daunt their campaign team.
“It is not about LGUs (local government units), it’s not about parties, it’s about whether you connect to the people or not. At the end of the day, it’s the sovereign people who make decisions and they can do it quietly or they can do it noisily,” said Banayo.
Malacañang clarified earlier on Tuesday that the PDP-Laban faction’s choice of presidential bet may not be the same as President Rodrigo Duterte’s, even if he is the party’s chairman.
“Ito ay malinaw na desisyon ng partido pero hindi malinaw na ito rin ang gusto ni Presidente,” said acting Presidential Spokesman Martin Andanar during a Palace press briefing.
(This is clearly the decision of the party but it’s not clear if this is also what the President wants.)
Banayo acknowledged that a Duterte endorsement of Moreno would still be an advantage because he is the sitting president who still commands a loyal following.
Banayo, himself a former Duterte appointee and member of the President’s 2016 campaign team, pointed to how the Marcos endorsement contradicts the party’s roots and track record.
PDP-Laban was formed out of two progressive parties created to resist the Marcos dictatorship – PDP (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino) founded by the late Senate president Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. and Laban (Lakas ng Bayan) founded by Philippine democracy icon Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
“How a PDP-Laban which has merged during the time of Cory Aquino can now support the candidacy of their founding fathers’ nemesis is beyond any principled choice,” Banayo said. – Rappler.com