IS THIS HOW WE TREAT A NATIONAL TREASURE?
By Atty. Dan Neri Lim
Sat, 30 Nov 2013
The arbitrary manner in which the BIR has frozen the assets of Rep. Manny Pacquiao leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
No one misses the irony in the ill-timed move of the BIR to unilaterally seize the assets of the man who is virtually the face not only of Philippine boxing but Philippine sports in general. It reduced the congratulations from Malacanang on Manny’s recent victory over Brandon Rios as hollow, even hypocritical.
How can you congratulate and persecute at the same time?
No one in his right frame of mind will miss the irony.
Here we have Pacquiao, a national treasure by all standards, now being vilified as a virtual tax evader by the BIR even before he could mount his defense before the tax court, virtually penalized even before a formal conviction can be secured.
Here we have Pacquiao, an honorable member of the House of Representatives, a sincere legislator casually dismissed as a virtual law-breaker by the BIR simply on the basis of its narrow interpretation of tax laws and tax procedures.
Here we have Pacquiao, revered all over the world as a gentleman of the highest order, a sportsman in every way, being given a shabby treatment by the BIR just when the world is drooling over him after a masterful victory.
In other countries, governments offer huge incentives to its athletes who emerge with the gold medal in Olympic competitions. In the Philippines, we offer a million-peso reward for such a feat.
Manny’s exploits in the ring, and more so his stature, are worth far more than many gold medals combined. He deserves not just millions of pesos in rewards but a measure of respect due his contributions to national pride.
Instead, his own government meets him with a virtual slap on the face, impugning his character and relegating his morale-boosting victory to a brief shining moment.
How could this administration be so cruel and unkind to one who has brought cheers to the terror-stricken victims of recent earthquakes and typhoons? How could this government be so insensitive to one who has brought honor and glory to a nation where good news only comes once in a long while?
How does the BIR expect Filipinos to believe that it is merely doing its job when it persecuted Manny when it has left many prominent tax-evaders more guilty of the crime many times over than Manny virtually untouched?
Manny has the capability – and the evidence – to prove that he is not the tax-evader that the BIR pictures him to be. He has a consistently pleasant character that has evoked respect everywhere else to ride out of this storm.
Manny, more than anybody else, knows he will get out of this hump in one piece because he understands that this world – and more so this administration – will never be fair.
The sad thing about this whole unfortunate affair is the message that it gives not only to Filipinos but even to the whole world. Because it is an official act, it shows the world who we are.
Given the antecedent facts and arguments, this leads us to two questions which every Filipino – regardless of what political color you wear – must answer.
Is this how we treat a national treasure?
If this is the treatment we give to a national treasure, what treatment can we expect for the nameless, faceless and powerless in society?
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