MANILA, Philippines — Claiming the issue about the Marcos family’s estate tax is “all about politics,” the camp of presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. insisted that the case “is still pending in court.”
“Our rivals are misdirecting everyone by claiming that the case has attained finality when the truth of the matter is, it is still pending in court and the ownership of the properties in litigation has yet to be settled,” lawyer Victor Rodriguez, spokesperson for Marcos Jr., said in a statement on Saturday, without citing the specific cases he was referring to.
“It’s not a coincidence that rivals of presidential front-runner Bongbong Marcos are raising this matter in unison a few weeks before the elections; sadly, this is all about politics,” he added.
He insisted that the “fair and just tax base to be used in computing the estate tax cannot yet be established with certainty.”
However, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) already said that “as early as 1997, the judgment on the tax case had become final and executory.”
In 1998, it said the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) “already executed a final assessment” on the involved properties.
The BIR also confirmed that it sent a written demand to the Marcos family last December for them to pay their estate tax liability.
Former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio echoed the statement of the PCGG on the estate tax of the Marcos family. Marcos Jr. is co-administrator of his late father’s estate.
“It is clear as day, beyond any shadow of doubt, that the estate tax liability of the Marcos estate in principal amount of P23 billion had long become final, executory, unappealable as of 1997 when the Supreme Court denied the motion for reconsideration of Marcos Jr.,” Carpio said at a virtual forum on Thursday.
“That was almost a quarter of a century ago. This decision can no longer be questioned before any court. No court can overturn this decision,” he added.
In its decision dated June 5, 1997, on the petition of Marcos Jr. seeking to reverse the earlier decision of the Court of Appeals upholding the BIR’s assessment, the Second Division of the Supreme Court had also addressed the issue on the value of properties subject to the estate tax.
Burden of proof
“[Marcos Jr.] expresses his reservation as to the propriety of the BIR’s total assessment of P23,292,607,638.00, stating that this amount deviates from the findings of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Panel of Prosecutors as per its resolution of 20 September 1991. Allegedly, this is clear evidence of the uncertainty on the part of the government as to the total value of the estate of the late president. This is, to our mind, the petitioner’s last-ditch effort to assail the assessment of estate tax, which had already become final and unappealable,” it said.
“It is not the [DOJ] which is the government agency tasked to determine the amount of taxes due upon the subject estate, but the [BIR] whose determinations and assessments are presumed correct and made in good faith … Even an assessment based on estimates is prima facie valid and lawful where it does not appear to have been arrived at arbitrarily or capriciously. The burden of proof is upon the complaining party to show clearly that the assessment is erroneous … In this instance, petitioner has not pointed out one single provision in the Memorandum of the Special Audit Team [of the BIR] which gave rise to the questioned assessment, which bears a trace of falsity,” the decision said.
Several of Marcos Jr.’s rivals had brought up the issue during the Commission on Elections-sponsored debate and called for the collection of the unpaid estate taxes, which they argued could fund programs for farmers and public transportation drivers reeling from high oil prices.
Marcos Jr. was absent at the debate and was unable to respond.
In an interview with reporters in Tagaytay City last week, Marcos Jr. walked away when asked about his family’s unpaid estate tax. His sister, Sen. Imee Marcos, also evaded the same question from reporters when asked on March 17.
He was not asked about the estate tax issue on Saturday when he appeared in an interview over SMNI, a network owned by religious leader Apollo Quiboloy, who has endorsed his candidacy.
He was instead asked about his views on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, nuclear power, agriculture, and LGBTQ rights.
Survivors of the martial law of dictator Ferdinand Marcos on Friday also urged the BIR to collect the estate tax — which had ballooned to P203 billion — from the Marcos family before the May 9 elections.
Carpio, likewise, called on the BIR and the DOJ to file criminal charges against the Marcos family after they repeatedly ignored the demand letters from the BIR.
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