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Pacquiao To Gov’t, BIR: Big-Time Thieves Are Better Off Than Me

Hit by an assets freeze that only came to light a day after winning his latest fight, Manny Pacquiao has hit back at the government seemingly saying that big-time thieves in the country are better off than him.

The reaction came after news broke out that the Court of Tax Appeals’ (CTA) First Division has ordered two weeks ago that all bank deposits of the boxing icon be frozen. The order is known as a warrant of garnishment.

Pacquiao also learned only on Monday that his accounts have been frozen after her quickly returned to the country as he wanted to help the people in Visayas who were ravaged by super typhoon Yolanda earlier this month. Reports say that the “pambansang kamao” was shocked to learn of the assets freeze.

In remarks published by TV5’s InterAksyon.com and made in a hurriedly-organized press conference in his native General Santos City, Pacquiao voiced his seemingly hurt sentiments and asked the BIR to unfreeze his accounts.

“Hindi ako makapag-withdraw ni isang singkong sentimo sa sarili kong pera, hindi ko magamit para makatulong,” Pacquiao said.

Furthermore, he said that before the garnishment, he did not receive any warning or a single letter from authorities. The boxing icon also said that he does not know why he is being singled out and that “The BIR claims I earned more than what I actually did, without any evidence to back it up.”

When asked how he felt about the latest development in his tax evasion case after being “beaten up” inside the ring which almost always gives inspiration to Filipinos, Pacquiao voiced his resentment stemming from the case filed against him by the BIR.

”Nagpabugbog ako, kumita ako, kinuha ng gobyerno. Pero pag nagnakaw ka - wala pa akong nakitang nagnakaw ng marami, pero na-garnish lahat ng pera,” he said.

The garnishment of his assets stems from a P2.2-billion tax case filed by the BIR. This amount includes fees and interest but Pacquiao’s camp said that the amount is unreasonable because it exceeds the boxing icon’s net worth.

Pacquiao won $28 million from fights in 2008 and 2009, the years in question in the case against him. According to reports, the boxer and congressman paid the U.S. Internal Revenue Service $8.5 million in taxes for the earnings.

Furthermore, Pacquiao said that he did not include records of the taxes he paid in the U.S. those years since there is a bilateral treaty between the U.S. and the Philippines that bans double taxation. He did pay P12 million to the BIR, however, as tax for earning P114 million from being an endorser during those years.

The BIR said the amount has become “demandable…and collectible” since Pacquiao failed to answer the final assessment notice (FAN) sent by the agency to have him explain. The BIR said that under the tax code, Pacquiao had 30 days to reply to the notice.

However, Pacquiao said that he has tried to submit documents from the IRS to prove to the BIR that he really paid taxes in the U.S. What is beyond him, he says, is why the BIR keeps on asking for original documents – documents he says the IRS does not give out.

“America’s IRS does not give originals, only copies. Saan ako lulugar?” Pacquiao said during the press conference.

Amid all of this, however, Pacquiao seems to have not lost his faith saying, “dinadasal ko na lang sa Diyos ang lahat.”

Nonetheless, he is adamant that the money the BIR froze is his and that he did not steal it.

“Ang pera kong ginarnish ng BIR ay hindi po nakaw at hindi po PDAF o DAP. Ito po ay galing sa lahat ng suntok, bugbog, pawis at dugo na tiniis ko sa boxing,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pacquiao also spoke of the possibility of borrowing money just to help the victims of Yolanda.

He said that despite the assets freeze, “walang problema, hindi hadlang ‘yan sa pagpunta ko sa Tacloban. The Lord will always provide, mangungutang uli.”

According to the “pambansang kamao”, his team is busy packing relief goods and that he will be in Tacloban by Thursday or Friday.

In a statement from his office in Congress, Pacquiao said, “Matagal ko nang gustong tumulong sa mga nasalanta ng bagyo at lindol, pero ako po ay hinabla ng BIR ng P2.2 billion peso tax case na walang kabase-base at ang aking mga pera sa bangko ay gi-narnish ng BIR.”

The CTA’s warrant affects more than his relief drive, however, as Pacman said that he has about 1,000 employees who receive salary from him and scholars who receive millions in aid for allowances and tuition fees from him.

With this, he appealed to the BIR to unfreeze his assets, even saying that he will not run away from the case he is facing.

“Malaking epekto ‘yan. Kaya ako nakikiusap sa BIR na alisin nila ang garnishment dahil hindi naman ako tatakbo o magtatago man,” he said.

The BIR’s Side

In an interview with radio station DZMM, BIR chief Kim Henares stressed that Pacquiao had two years to explain his earnings.

Henares said that the BIR has been asking Pacquiao to explain since 2010 and present documents from the IRS and not only letters from Top Rank and HBO which have written the BIR saying they paid taxes owed by Pacquiao to the U.S. government.

And since Pacquiao did not explain as far as the BIR is concerned, the agency should be paid, Henares said.

“He had time to protest---so the assessment became final…ibig sabihin tapos na ang usapin. So dapat bayaran niya ang BIR, pero di pa niya ginagawa,” Henares said.

Henares confirmed that Top Rank has written to the BIR saying they paid in behalf of Pacquiao but she also said, “Pwede naman maski sino mag-drawing, magsabi, ‘oy, nagbayad ako ng buwis para sa isang tao.’”

In another part of the interview, Henares also said that they have waited for two years because they don’t want to be blamed if Pacquiao would lose.

“Every time na may laban siya, humihinto kami. Kasi nga ayaw naming masisi kapag natalo siya,” she said.

Henares also said that Pacquiao knew about the garnishment as his camp filed a case at the CTA to stop the garnishment.

In a statement from his Congress office, Pacquiao said that the BIR claims he earned more than he actually did, without any evidence to support that claim.

Furthermore, he said the BIR “ignored information given by Top Rank and HBO and insisted I have earned more. My lawyers have given them all the info that they want and they still refuse to believe.”

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Pacquiao To Gov’t, BIR: Big-Time Thieves Are Better Off Than Me

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