Sunday, October 30, 2011

Imprisonment awaits Ligot coddlers, Malacañang warns

Malacañang on Sunday warned those who are possibly giving protection to former military comptroller Jacinto Ligot and his wife Erlinda, who are both wanted for alleged tax evasion.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippine National Police has already formed tracer teams to go after the couple, who are the subjects of an arrest order from the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA).

"Certainly meron 'yan, may liability 'yan under the law. I’m not quite clear if it will be aiding and abetting a fugitive or obstruction of justice," Valte said on government-run dzRB radio.

The Revised Penal Code's Article 307 addresses aiding and abetting "a band of brigands," and covers the act of "giving them information of the movements of the police or other peace officers of the Government." Such acts are punishable by imprisonment.

Obstruction of justice as defined by Presidential Decree 1829 carries a penalty of imprisonment of up to six years, or a fine of up to P6,000. It covers "harboring or concealing, or facilitating the escape of, any person he knows, or has reasonable ground to believe or suspect, has committed any offense under existing penal laws in order to prevent his arrest, prosecution and conviction."

Heads will roll?

Valte declined to comment on whether heads will roll over the sudden disappearance of the Ligot couple. "From what I understand, while there was a case filed against them,wala pang lumalabas na arrest warrant prior to that," she said.

She said information from the Bureau of Immigration shows that "they are still in the country."

When asked if Malacañang was disappointed over the Ligots' disappearance, Valte said it was too early to say, adding they do not have the entire picture at this time. "We will get more information," she said.

However, she said that since the Court of Tax Appeals already ordered the Ligots’ arrest, the prosecutors can ask for the issuance of a hold-departure order against them.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier recommended the filing of charges against the Ligots for violation of Section 225 of the NIRC of 1997 for taxable year 2001, and for violation of Section 254 of the NIRC for three counts for taxable years 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Last March, the Bureau of Internal Revenue filed a case against the couple for failing to declare their income of roughly P459.6 million from 2001 to 2004.

The BIR said the couple used this income to acquire several properties in the country and abroad.

Also, BIR data showed the Ligots owed the government a combined tax deficiency of P428 million from 2003 to 2004.

Last April, the US government turned over to the Philippines the $132,000 proceeds from the sale of the property. — KBK, GMA News

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