For non-payment of taxes, duties
THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) under Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon continues with its no-nonsense campaign against “tax evaders,” this time targeting San Jose Builders, Inc. (SJBI), the real estate and construction company identified with the family of former President Aquino’s executive secretary, Paquito ‘Jojo’ Ochoa.
In a statement yesterday, the bureau said its Legal Service has already transmitted its complaint against SJBI and three surety/bonding companies to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on Tuesday “for failing to settle their tax obligations to the agency” totaling nearly P1 billion.
The case against SJBI came on the heels of the successful campaign by the government to bring to court local cigarette manufacturer, Mighty Corporation, which has been perceived as among the companies given undue privilege by the Aquino administration.
The transmittal of the case against SJBI came exactly a week after People’s Tonight, in an article last April 18, first bared that the BoC is eyeing SJBI for alleged tax fraud in connection with the construction of the ‘Philippine Arena’ owned by the religious group, ‘Iglesia Ni Cristo’ (INC) in Bulacan province.
Construction of the arena started in 2011 with the Korean firm, Hanwa Engineering as the main contractor. With a seating capacity of more than 50,000, the Philippine Arena is now the world’s biggest ‘indoor’ arena and was inaugurated on July 21, 2014 by Pres. Aquino, to coincide with the ‘centennial year’ of the local religious group.
The bureau noted that SJBI used Republic Act 9593 or the Tourism Act of 2009, to avail of the ‘tax and duty-free’ privilege for its importations for the project. The law grants the incentive to registered companies and enterprises located within a ‘tourism enterprise zone.’
The company then posted surety bonds to cover the importations in the aggregate amount of P947,292,023 thru Centennial Guarantee Assurance Corp. (CGAC), Intra Strata Assurance Corp. (ISAC) and Philippine Fire and Marine Insurance Corp. (PFMIC), the three surety companies also mentioned in the complaint.
However, the Department of Finance (DoF), then under Sec. Cesar Purisima, did not grant the application for exemption applied for by SJBI, prompting the district collector of the Port of Manila to issue a series of demand letter to SJBI and the three surety companies to settle their tax obligations. The final demand letter to the accused was issued last July 28, 2015.
Last September 20, 2016, the POM’s ‘Bonds Division’ forwarded to Faeldon a recommendation to forfeit the surety bonds issued in favor of SJBI for the accused’s repeated failure to settle their obligations with the government “despite repeated demands,” the bureau’s statement added.