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Economy

Move on from Marcos estate tax issue, Pinoys told

PRESIDENT-ELECT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

THE MARCOS family’s billions of pesos worth of unpaid estate tax is an election issue that Filipinos should move on from, according to a senator who is poised to lead the upper chamber.

“Let us move on,” Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri told the ABS-CBN Teleradyo on Thursday. “That is an election issue, and the election is over.”

The lawmaker, who was part of President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s senatorial slate in the election last month, earlier said Mr. Marcos had asked Congress to help him fight corruption.

He urged lawmakers to pass laws that would plug leakages and deter other anomalies in revenue-generating agencies such as the Internal Revenue and Customs bureaus.

In March, the Bureau of Internal Revenue said it sent in December a written demand to the Marcos family to settle their tax liabilities that have ballooned to more than P200 billion due to interests.

The Finance department earlier said the estate tax would be an additional source of state revenue amid surging global oil prices. Mr. Marcos has evaded questions from the media about the issue.

Critics and former government officials have urged the government to charge the Marcos family in court for failing to pay the estate tax.

Former Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) Commissioner Ruben Carranza has said the son and namesake of the late dictator is aware of his family’s stolen wealth because he had been a key administrator of the Marcos estate since his father died in exile in the US in 1989.

He said Mr. Marcos was 40 years old when the PCGG discovered in 1998 the $2 million worth of assets deposited by his late father with Merrill Lynch Securities in New York in 1972 under the Panamanian corporation Arelma S.A.

Mr. Carranza said it was the son who answered questions about the contents of the dirty Swiss bank accounts.

Critics, including victims of the late dictator’s martial rule, worry that the government would never recover the ill-gotten assets once Marcos Jr. becomes president.

Meanwhile, Mr. Marcos will hold his presidential inauguration at the National Museum in Manila on June 3, his office said in a statement.

Members of the inaugural committee have inspected the area and found it to be a “suitable venue,” incoming Presidential Management Staff Secretary Zenaida Angping said.

“The National Museum of the Philippines building and its surrounding areas match our requirements for President-elect Marcos’ inauguration,” she said. “Preparations are already in full swing to ensure that it will be ready by then.”

The country’s main museum, formerly known as the Old Legislative Building, served as the venue for the inauguration of former Presidents Manuel L. Quezon in 1935, Jose P. Laurel in 1943 and Manuel Roxas in 1946.

The Marcos camp had considered two other venues for the inauguration — Fort Santiago which is a historical defense fortress in Manila built in the 1940s and Quirino Grandstand, named after the late President Elpidio G. Quirino.

Mr. Marcos’ father held his inauguration as the country’s 10th president at the grandstand in 1965.

The incoming president chose not to hold his inauguration there because it is surrounded by hospitals housing people infected with the coronavirus.

Congress on May 25 declared Mr. Marcos’ landslide victory in this year’s presidential election. It also proclaimed his running-mate Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio as the country’s next vice-president.

The tandem, who came from political clans, joined forces to secure the first landslide victory in four decades, although observers said it remains to be seen if they can stay united in the next six years.

Ms. Carpio, a top choice for president in polls conducted before the filing of candidacies, is the daughter of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who had faced a probe by the International Criminal Court for his war on drugs that has killed thousands. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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