Marcoses stealing from Filipinos twice over for refusing to pay taxes, martial law survivors and rights defenders say

Photo by George Calvelo/ABS-CBN News

The Marcoses’ refusal to pay their taxes is “stealing from Filipinos twice over,” martial law survivors and human rights defenders asserted on Wednesday as they pressed calls for the late dictator’s family to pay their P203.8 billion worth of deficiency estate taxes to the Philippine government.

“The despotic Marcos dynasty has plundered our nation’s coffers as they amassed ill-gotten wealth during their years in power — yet they have the audacity to steal from Filipinos twice over by refusing to pay their billions of deficiency estate taxes. To this day, we continue to not only pay for their crimes: they continue to cause the suffering of the people when the money they have stolen could have benefitted many, especially amid the crises we are currently facing,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

Palabay explained that, should the Marcoses pay their deficiency estate taxes to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), these funds, according to the Department of Finance (DOF), may be channeled to the much-needed aid or assistance for poor Filipinos affected by the skyrocketing prices of oil and basic commodities, the loss of jobs and livelihood due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and migrant Filipinos affected by these crises in other countries.

“There are thousands of ways how Filipinos can benefit from the Marcoses’ unpaid taxes. After all, this money belongs to us. If Marcos Jr. truly desires the Filipino people to bounce back from these crises, he should have headed to the BIR to file estate tax returns. Instead, he dismisses them as ‘fake news’ and mere presumptions. Ibang klase rin talaga ang kapal ng mukha ng Marcos na ito, considering that he was convicted for his failure to file his own income tax returns during his father’s dictatorship,” she stated.

“Ordinary Filipinos know the basic responsibility of paying taxes — and that refusing to pay them is a criminal liability. However, it has become a family affair for the Marcoses to enjoy impunity. They always think they are above the law, but they are not. The BIR should have filed cases against them by now,” the Karapatan official continued.

Meanwhile, Danilo dela Fuente, vice chairperson of the Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) and a martial law survivor, said that all the unpaid taxes of the Marcoses could have been used by the government for reparation and compensation for people like him who suffered various forms of human rights violations under the Marcos dictatorship.

“It pains us that, even as thousands of us have received recognition and reparation for the abuses we suffered under the Marcoses, billions of their ill-gotten wealth are yet to be returned and recovered. Many of us survivors could have benefitted from these taxes if the Marcoses paid them, not just through compensation but through services and assistance as well,” Dela Fuente asserted.

Dela Fuente calculated that more than one million Filipinos could be given P200 each from the P203.8 billion worth of Marcoses’ unpaid estate taxes.

“That does not include the P125 billion of ill-gotten wealth that we have yet to recover from the hands of the Marcoses. It really can be done. The government can no longer claim lack of resources while giving crumbs of aid to Filipinos,” the SELDA official said.

The P23-billion deficiency estate taxes of the Marcoses assessed in 1991 by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) became final and executory in 1997, and this amount has ballooned to P203.8 billion as the Marcoses have refused to pay them for the past 25 years — all while they falsely claimed that they were still supposedly awaiting the final assessment and decision of the PCGG and the BIR.

“We have more reasons to demand that the Marcoses be held accountable and be brought to justice. They have perpetually abused power even when they are not in Malacañang — but worse when they are in power. We call on all freedom-loving Filipinos to denounce this travesty and grand display of deceit against the people. Let us not allow Marcos Jr., now the face of his family of thieves and criminals, to return to power and steal from us again. We call on the Marcoses: buwis n’yo, bayaran n’yo! Isoli n’yo ang ninakaw n’yo!” Dela Fuente ended.