Duterte raises Pacquiao's tax evasion case: 'When you cheat the gov't, you're corrupt'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 7) - President Rodrigo Duterte again criticized longtime ally Senator Manny Pacquiao, this time for his previous tax evasion case.

"I remember he has a tax evasion case and he has been assessed to pay, ₱2.2 billion ang utang niya, na hindi niya binayaran ang gobyerno (he owes the government ₱2.2 billion) for all his fights," the President said during a meeting Wednesday with PDP-Laban members. Duterte is chairman of the ruling party while Pacquiao is president.

In 2013, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) issued a freeze order on Pacquiao's bank accounts and other assets after it computed the boxer-turned-senator's tax deficiencies for 2008 and 2009 at ₱2.26 billion. The amount blew up to ₱3.3 billion after penalties.

The Court of Tax Appeals in 2018 ordered the BIR to cease and desist from collecting the supposed tax deficiency of Pacquiao and his wife, Jinkee. It noted that the bureau failed to establish that the couple had committed fraud.

"I'll try to find out...Not because gusto ko siyang habulin, ayaw ko, but sabi kasi niya, corrupt. Eh kung corrupt kami, ikaw, when you cheat the government, you are [also] a corrupt official," Duterte said.

[Translation: I'll try to find out...Not because I want to go after him, I don't want to, but he claimed corruption. If we are corrupt, then you are also a corrupt official when you cheat the government.]

Pacquiao earlier accepted Duterte's dare to expose corruption in the government, after the senator claimed the current administration is more corrupt than its predecessor.