GMA News Online

BIR wants Erap to pay P2.9B tax; Estrada cries harassment

October 16, 2008 10:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - Former President Joseph Estrada on Thursday lashed out against the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) which wants him and his wife, former Senator Luisa "Loi" Ejercito-Estrada, to pay P2.9 billion in taxes.

The taxes, the BIR had said, was for his alleged undeclared Jose Velarde account.

In an interview with GMA News’s 24 Oras’ Maki Pulido, Estrada said the order of BIR was just meant to “harass" him since the Sandiganbayan special division, which convicted him for plunder last year, had already cleared him of the Jose Velarde anomaly.

"'Yan ay hinimay lahat, ang unexplained wealth, ang ill-gotten wealth, lahat ng pag-aari ko, marami daw akong kumpanya, dinismiss ng Sandiganbayan 'yan. Six years ang trial," Estrada said.

Estrada’s remark came after former BIR commissioner Lilian Hefti ordered him and Loi to pay P2.9 billion in unpaid taxes covering the year 1999.

The order was dated September 26.

But Estrada said he has nothing to do with the Velarde bank account, which he claimed is owned by businessman Jaime Dichavez.

“Pag bukas ng second envelope it only confirms na nakalagay doon Jaime Dichavez is the owner of the Jose Velarde account. Ang nakapirma pa don si Jaime Dichavez and confirmed by the senior executive vice-president ng Equitable PCI bank (na) si Romualdo Dy-Tang. And that Mr. Romualdo Dy-Tang even testified in Sandiganbayan," Estrada said.

The report, however, said that contrary to the claims of Estrada, the anti-graft court ruled during the hearing that Estrada, was the “real and beneficial owner" of the alleged anomalous bank account.

"The Court finds that the Former President Estrada is the real and beneficial owner of the EPCIB ... in the name of Jose Velarde," the decision said. - Aie Balagas See, GMANews.TV