Malacañang vows to go after Pharmally if proven it did not pay taxes

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 29) — The government will pursue Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. if proven it did not pay taxes after bagging billions of pesos in procurement deals, Malacañang vowed Friday.

"Ngayon ibang isyu ang nilalabas nila: non-payment of taxes. Ay naku po, syempre po ang ehekutibo ang mangunguna na mangolekta ng taxes kung talagang kinakailangang kolektahin 'yan," Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual briefing, stressing the state needs more funds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

[Translation: They (senators) raised another issue: non-payment of taxes. Of course the executive will be the first to collect taxes (from Pharmally) if there really is a need to do so.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon bared in yesterday's Blue Ribbon Committee hearing that the firm did not pay income taxes, and even claimed a tax credit worth over ₱96 million. His report was based on Bureau of Internal Revenue documents.

"Huwag po kayong mag-alala: hindi po natutulog sa pansitan ang ating BIR. Kung talagang may kulang pong taxes, hahabulin po natin 'yan and that is guaranteed," Roque stressed.

[Translation: Do not worry: our BIR is not sleeping around. If there really are pending taxes, we will go after them and that is guaranteed.]

Xuzhou Construction Marketing Group

The spokesman also played down criticisms over a photograph of President Rodrigo Duterte with the chairman of Xuzhou Construction Marketing Group, the country's second top medical supplier, back in 2017.

"Under the laws of rules of evidence, 'yung piktyur pong 'yan ay ebidensiya lamang [that picture is only evidence] of the existence of the picture - it cannot prove relationship. Ikaw naman senadora, masyado ka namang imaginative [You're too imaginative, senator]," Roque said, addressing Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

Hontiveros posted in her official Facebook page the picture of Duterte with XCMG chairman Wang Min, noting the company also did not pay income taxes after bagging a deal worth ₱1.67 billion.

The company told the Blue Ribbon Committee on Oct. 19 that it doesn't pay taxes in the Philippines since it doesn't accept payments here anyway.

"Bakit ba ang mga kumpanyang nagresponde sa pandemya sa Pilipinas, puro nanlalabag ng batas? Hindi tuloy malayong maisip na kaya ang daming kaso ng COVID-19 sa atin dahil sa mga kaduda-dudang medical suppliers," Hontiveros said.

[Translation: Why is it that all of the companies responding to the pandemic in the Philippines have broken the law? It's not impossible to think our COVID-19 cases are so many because of dubious medical suppliers.]

Meanwhile, Roque said he welcomes the Senate's intent to file a petition before the Supreme Court questioning Duterte's order barring Cabinet officials from attending hearing of the Blue Ribbon Committee.

"Talaga namang ang Kataas-taasang Hukuman ang magre-resolba kapag nagkaroon po ng ibang pananaw ang ehekutibo at ang iba pang sangay ng ating gobyerno," Roque said.

[Translation: It is indeed the Supreme Court that will resolve differences in the views of the executive and other branches of our government.]