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Sereno camp: CJ paid correct taxes on Piatco earnings

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The camp of Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno insisted Monday that her tax records would prove that she had paid the correct taxes for the income she earned for serving as government counsel in the Piatco arbitration case.

“Chief Justice Sereno faithfully paid the tax due to her earnings covering the years 2004 to 2009 when she was the co-legal counsel of the Republic of the Philippines in the PIATCO case,” said lawyer Jojo Lacanilao, one of Sereno’s spokespersons.

Lacanilao maintained that Sereno had “accurately and properly” declared all her earnings or attorney’s fees from the PIATCO case, which could easily be verified.

“The issue is a non-starter. Lahat ng kailangang bayaran, binayaran ni Chief Justice. Wala po silang makikitang tax evasion,” he said.

He noted that records from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) would bear that she paid all her taxes accurately to the tune of P8.67 million.

Lacanilao also took exception to insinuations by some members of the House Committee on Justice on the supposed “discrepancies” observed by the BIR as regards Sereno’s tax records.

“May mga conclusion na pero hindi pa tapos ang investigation. Wala pa man ding reply si Chief Justice, may mga conclusion na,” he lamented.

The lawyer said that while the Chief Justice could easily explain those discrepancies, it was quite alarming that some lawmakers were already “jumping into premature conclusions” that tend to violate her right to due process.

“Nakababahala na mayroon na silang conclusion, nawala na ang due process,” he said.

At the same time, Lacanilao said the tax probe on Sereno was a mere afterthought because it is being done only after the matter was brought up in the impeachment proceedings before the House Justice Committee.

“During the tax years and the years after that, not once did the BIR issued a letter of authority or a letter of notice to the Chief Justice to open her books for possible discrepancy or any question regarding her tax payment for that matter,” he explained.

According to Lacanilao, it is obvious that the justice panel is using all resources at its disposal to muddle the impeachment issue.

“Let it be known to the public that the tax filing of the Chief Justice is not part of the impeachment complaint filed by Atty. Larry Gadon,” he said.