source: ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. on Thursday became the latest lawmaker to come to the defense of boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, who is facing charges filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
"This is not the way to treat someone who we all consider as a contemporary hero, who has brought great honor and pride to the country," Revilla said in a statement.
Early this March, the BIR filed charges against Pacquiao after the boxer allegedly snubbed the agency’s summons to present certain documents. He was charged with violation of Section 266 of the National Internal Revenue Code, and if convicted will face a fine of up to P10,000 as well as two years in prison.
Revilla said he understands that it is part of the BIR's job to ensure proper collection of taxes, but he does not support the way the agency went about the case against Pacquiao.
"I am certain it is not part of their job description to shame people publicly and make circuses out of circumstances," Revilla said.
"Nakakabahala lang kasi na para silang 'yung mga credit card collection agents na mananakot, manghihiya at gagawin ang lahat para sirain ang pangalan ng tao, tapos sa dulo, eh baka nagkamali lang pala 'yung nangongolekta," he added. "Paano 'pag nagkaganoon, sorry na lang?"
Revilla advised the BIR that if it is certain Pacquiao committed an error, they should simply take the necessary action and file the necessary charges.
"Bakit pa kailangang i-anunsyo sa mga peryodiko?" he questioned.
In a recent press conference, Pacquiao vowed to fight the tax charges as he slammed the BIR for their actions.
Pacquiao claimed that the charges tarnished his name and reputation and he may lose millions of dollars of endorsement money in the process.
He said he will leave the case up to his lawyers, as he is set to prepare for his June 9 bout against Timothy Bradley Jr. in April.
Revilla also commented on Pacquiao's upcoming fight, saying he hoped the tax case will not distract the boxer from his training camp.
Revilla is not the first lawmaker to defend Pacquiao from the BIR.
Last March 15, Sen. Ralph Recto said that Pacquiao should no longer be taxed of his earnings from his fights in the United States as he has already paid taxes with the Internal Revenue Service.
Recto also said that Pacquiao deserved "better treatment" given how much goodwill and pride he has brought to the country.
San Juan City Rep. JV Ejercito, meanwhile, criticized the BIR and its Commissioner Kim Henares yesterday, saying the agency was "insensitive" in its handling of the case against Pacquiao.
"BIR officials coming out to speak to the media is apparently becoming an attack to (Pacquiao's) personality rather than what they say is a fulfillment of duty," Ejercito said.
Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, for his part, said the BIR failed to follow due process in the case.
But Henares has defended the BIR's actions, claiming the agency followed standard operating procedure in filing the case against the champion boxer.