Minority to Noy: Scrutinize MBC books

Published by rudy Date posted on April 16, 2011

A direct challenge has been flung by a minority leader at President Aquino, which may well be the warm-up from the political opposition in the House of Representatives that had earlier announced a full-scale offensive against the Aquino administration.

A ranking member of the minority bloc in the House yesterday called on Aquino to seriously scrutinize the “books” of the members of the Makati Business Club (MBC) to determine if they are paying government the correct taxes.

Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said the Aquino government is training its guns on the small cases such as what it filed against Ang Galing Pinoy party-list Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo while the bigger tax evaders are being left out.

“You are wasting your time on your bid (to jail) one taxpayer (Arroyo’s case). Cheating the government is a way of life. Every day, everybody cheats the government. Why train your guns on (filing tax evasion charges) against a Brazilian model when the government allegedly loses P200 million in tax revenues from the country’s top 100 corporations,” Suarez pointed out.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) filed a P73.85-million tax evasion cases against Arroyo and his wife Angela Montenegro Arroyo.

Aside from the Arroyo couple, Brazilian model and actress Daiana Menezes was also slapped with two counts of tax evasion for failure to file her income tax returns for the years 2007 to 2009.

Suarez noted that he had once accused the MBC that the top 100 tax evaders are allegedly part of that group.

“They (MBC) once invited me in their forum and I said that they are allegedly tax evaders. They never invited me again,” said Suarez.

Suarez reiterated his position “that what we should do to improve tax collection performance is pass the Attrition Law so that we can punish the non-performing offices.”

To comply with the government’s requirement, Suarez said “I file separate income tax return for me and my wife because we have source of income outside of our job.”

Aquino, however, claimed he is not threatened by the political minority’s recent declaration of an “all out offensive” against his administration for as long as the charges which the minority said it would be leveling at the Noynoy government anytime next week would be based on facts that are issue-oriented and not personality-oriented.

Secretary Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications Group yesterday said Malacañang welcomes the critical attitude of the political opposition for the sake of maintaining a healthy democracy in the country, addingt hta the “frontal attack” to be launched by the members of the Lakas-Kampi as announced in a press conference by Suarez is “okay”, since this admistration is committed in upholding its so-called principle of accountability.

“Taken in context, I guess his (Suarez’s) statement was good in terms of the fact that they will become critical—they will carefully analyze the issues. If we’re going to use the term ‘frontal attack’ which means ‘straightforward’ in the Filipino language…I think it will be okay, discussing issues frontally, because this is healthy in a democracy,” Coloma told a post-briefing interview, Friday.

“As a government, we are committed to be accountable to our people including to the other political parties or sectors. So we would welcome their (opposition’s) criticisms. I just hope these would be based on facts; these will be issue-oriented and not personality-oriented,” he added.

Suarez announced a day earlier that the opposition in the House had decided to launch an offensive against the administration, in light of the president’s “persecution” of the minority whom he regards as his enemy, this despite the willingness of the minority to cooperate with the Aquino government.

The lawmaker was referring to the alleged politically-motivated cases filed against former presidential son and Local Water Utilities Administration chairman Prospero ‘Butch’ Pichay, Jr.

Coloma said they in the Palace understand where Suarez is coming and respect his views instead of feeling threatened by it. He added that Malacañang is prepared to deal with whatever allegations the minority camp will come up with against the administration in the next few days.

“We are prepared to hold ourselves accountable to our people. We are committed to openness and transparency in government. So let them say, express whatever they want to express and we are going to analyze, respond to them in the proper forum.”

Aquino’s allies predictably claimed to be unfazed by the move of the minority, with Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya Jr. and Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada, both stalwarts of Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP), saying that a critical opposition is normal in the country’s political landscape.

“We wait for whatever disclosures Rep. Suarez will make if there is really any. What is intriguing is the contradictory statements issued by Senator (Ramon) Revilla and Rep. Suarez on the position of Lakas vis a vis the Aquino administration. It just shows that Lakas is not united and Senator Revilla is not being listened to,” said Tañada.

House minority leader Edcel Lagman said that since Day One of the Aquino administration, the House Minority has been reasonably critical of the haphazard policies and lackadaisical performance of President Aquino and some members of the Cabinet.

“The minority is going to maintain this tempered posture and will not engage in virulent and baseless opposition,” Lagman said yesterday.

Lagman, however, said that self-imposed temperance will not dissuade the leadership and membership of the Minority from exposing the failure of the Aquino administration to comprehend and confront the basic problems of escalating poverty and hunger, deteriorating corruption index and worsening economic indicators like high inflation rate, increasing unemployment, and diminishing investor and consumer confidence.

“The Aquino administration’s agenda of vengeance and fault-finding as well as populist propaganda cannot replace resolute performance and meaningful solutions,” the Albay lawmaker said.

Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said that “that is really the role of the opposition in a democracy. They criticize and expose the weaknesses of the incumbent administration and act as a counterweight or check on the government.”

Davao del Sur Rep. Marc Douglas Cagas IV, a member of the minority bloc, did not toe the opposition’s line. “I take exception to the statement of Cong. Suarez, with all due respect to him. I don’t wish that this administration fails. In fact I want it to succeed because the nation will succeed with it. While I’m in the minority, I am unlike the previous opposition, which was destructive. I play my role as member of the minority, to debate on issues, policies and principles,” said Cagas. –Gerry Baldo and Charlie V. Manalo with Aytch S. de la Cruz, Daily Tribune

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