THE Department of Finance (DoF) has earned the Department of Health’s (DoH) support for exposing and running after tax cheats in the cigarette industry.
The DoH has said an additional P1 billion in unpaid taxes could have been spent on medicines and pay for the medical treatment of some 5.7 million indigent Filipinos afflicted with hypertension and diabetes.
In a statement over the weekend, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd welcomed the DoH’s expression of support and assured Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial that Mighty Corp., which the government has sued for using bogus cigarette tax stamps, would get no special treatment from the DoF or the Bureaus of Internal Revenue (BIR) and of Customs (BoC).
“The rule of law must be applied equally. All kinds of crime must face swift and sure justice, and Mighty Corp. is no exception. These fraudulent tax stamps represent billions of pesos worth of theft from the Filipino people,” Dominguez said.
The DOF has been at the forefront of the government’s campaign against tax dodgers in the cigarette industry.
On March 22, the BIR filed a P9.6-billion criminal complaint against Mighty Corp. before the Department of Justice for unlawful possession of articles subject to excise tax and for possession of false, counterfeit restored or altered stamps.
The use of fake tax stamps was uncovered during a series of raids that the BOC conducted on warehouses of Mighty Corp.
“The current sin tax law was passed to help devote more resources to health care. It is alleged that Mighty has evaded P9 billion worth of taxes, if not more. Imagine how many hospitals, how many surgeries, how many vaccines, how many prescriptions could have been administered with that money and how many lives could have been saved,” Dominguez said.
“Rest assured, we are pursuing this case in consideration of the magnitude of what has been deprived from the Filipino people,” he said.
Mighty Corp. executives will have their constitutional opportunity to prove their innocence “but the evidence seems overwhelmingly to point to their guilt,” he said.
According to the DoH, its initial calculations show that P1 billion can be used to pay for daily maintenance medicines, laboratory work and medical care for deadly diseases caused by tobacco use.
With an augmentation of a mere P1 billion to the program, the DoH would be able to treat 3,975,421 patients with hypertension, and 1,705,030 with diabetes.