Incoming Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Monday said it is ‘unfair’ to put the burden on him regarding the estate tax of the heirs of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, noting that it will be up to the courts to decide.
According to Diokno, outgoing Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor, the estate taxes of the Marcos heirs should have already been collected years ago, if it is collectible.
“I think… kailan ba ‘yon, 40 years ago na ‘yan or 35 years in the ano… I think it’s unfair to put the burden on me,” he said in an ambush interview with GMA News’ Jonathan Andal.
“Dapat nakolekta na ‘yun kung that is collectible, so we’ll leave it to the courts to decide on that,” he continued.
(I think… when was that, 40 years ago or 35 years. I think it’s unfair to put the burden on me. That should have already been collected if that is collectible, so we’ll leave it to the courts to decide.)
Diokno is set to cut short his term as BSP governor — set to end in 2023 — to serve as the Finance secretary of President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
The outgoing officials of the Department of Finance (DOF) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) have earlier maintained that they are keen on collecting all taxes, in response to reports claiming that the Marcos heirs could not be compelled to pay an estimated P203 billion in estate taxes.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III in March said the BIR continues to demand the Marcos family to settle their estate tax debt, and the agency also said it sent a written demand for the family to pay their obligations.
According to the BIR, estate tax is on the right of the deceased to transmit estate to lawful heirs and beneficiaries at the time of death and on certain transfers equivalent to testamentary disposition.
“It is not a tax on property. It is a tax imposed on the privilege of transmitting property upon the death of the owner,” it said on its official website.
“The estate tax is based on the laws in force at the time of death notwithstanding the postponement of the actual possession or enjoyment of the estate by the beneficiary,” it added.
Marcos and his family fled to Hawaii amid the EDSA Revolution in 1986, bringing with them 22 crates of cash valued at $717 million; 300 crates of assorted jewelry with undetermined value; $4-million worth of unset previous gems; and $7.7 million worth of jewelry, among others.
A Supreme Court document showed that its ruling to affirm the Court of Appeals decision on the Marcos estate tax in 1994 were final and executory, and the deficiency income were unappealable.
Court records show that the estate taxes were set at P23 billion in 1991, and have since reportedly grown to P203.819 billion.
“There was the amount of originally I think P9 billion and then it became P23 billion and then now because of penalties and interest, it’s now, they say, around P203 billion so which amount is going to be settled is in discussions now with BIR,” Dominguez explained earlier.
For his part, Marcos claimed that there is “a lot of fake news” involved in the issues regarding his family’s ill-gotten wealth, and the issues should be left with the lawyers to discuss.
During the campaign period, Atty. Victor Rodriguez, spokesperson for Marcos, also noted that the ownership of the properties subject to the estate taxes had yet to be settled.
“It’s not a coincidence that rivals of presidential frontrunner Bongbong Marcos are raising this matter in unison a few weeks before the elections. Sadly, this is all about politics,” he said.—Jon Viktor Cabuenas/AOL, GMA News