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SC affirms acquittal of ex-AFP general Ligot of tax evasion

The Supreme Court has affirmed a decision of the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) acquitting retired Lieutenant General Jacinto Ligot and his wife, Erlinda, of tax evasion in connection to their P428-million tax deficiency case.

In a 20-page decision penned by Associate Justice Henri Jean Inting, the Third Division found nothing “capricious, whimsical, or even arbitrary” in the CTA’s ruling that the prosecution failed to prove the Ligot couple’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

“It is clear from the above-enumerated findings that the CTA resolved the case only after all the evidence was considered, weighed, and passed upon,” the Court said.

“When there is no allegation or proof of mistrial, there is no need for the Court to reexamine the evidence adduced by the parties,” it added.

The decision was promulgated on December 5, 2022 but released only on April 19, 2023.

The case stemmed from the petition of certiorari filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) against the January 2019 decision of the CTA that acquitted the Ligot couple and an October 2019 resolution that denied the BIR’s motion for reconsideration.

The BIR had accused the couple of failing to supply correct information in their income tax return and tax evasion from 2002 to 2004.

The High Tribunal said there is no violation of the principle of the hierarchy of courts.

The Court said that CTA Rules state that “it is the CTA En Banc which has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over decisions, resolutions or orders of the CTA Division involving criminal offenses arising from violations of the NIRC,” it said.

The Court further said that the petition did not point to any error of the jurisdiction committed by the CTA Third Division.

“Here, the petitioner merely questions the CTA’s appreciation of evidence, particularly those relative to the allegations regarding the accused-respondents' undeclared income,” it said.

“It is settled, however, that ‘[a]ny error committed in the evaluation of evidence is merely an error of judgment that cannot be remedied by certiorari,” it added.—AOL, GMA Integrated News