• Pacquiao’s tax woes can be good news

    Efren Danao

    Efren Danao

    The tax woes of Rep. Manny Pacquiao in the United States could be the best thing to happen to him and to boxing fans all over the world.

    If Pacquiao really owes the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a total of $18.3 million in taxes, then that means his manager, Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions, hasn’t been handling his finances well. Such a case could result in the estrangement of Pacquiao from Arum, which could make a fight between the Filipino congressman and Floyd “Money” Mayweather closer to reality.

    Many boxing commentators have been saying that bad blood between Arum and Mayweather is the main reason why staging a mega-fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather is like shooting at the moon. (Mayweather had been quoted as saying he would be ready to talk with Pacquiao the moment he drops Arum.) The feud between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions headed by Oscar de la Hoya adds to the frustration of boxing fans raring for the fight between the two top boxers of the world. If Arum is out of Pacquiao’s professional life, we might eventually see the much-awaited Fight of the Century.

    An auditing firm hired by Pacquiao had noted the poor record keeping of his finances. Arum and Michael Koncz, Pacquiao’s financial adviser, raised hell and Pacquiao subsequently terminated the services of the auditing firm. That’s how much he trusted Arum and Koncz. In fact, he continues to believe that Arum had automatically deducted the tax payments from his purse in US fights. However, if the IRS case prospers, Pacquiao might have a second thought on that trust.

    Oh yes, as reported by TMZ, a popular entertainment site in the US, Pacquiao owes the IRS $1,160,324.20 in 2006; $2,035,992.50 in 2007; $2,862,437.11 in 2008; $8,022,915.87 in 2009; and $4,231,999.01 in 2010.

    Lawmakers busy with pork
    The parting of ways between Pacquiao and Arum could be good news for boxing but not necessarily for the House where Pacquiao is now serving his second term. Pacquiao could make a good account of himself on top of the ring but his performance at the House has been so-so, “thanks” to his poor attendance record.

    Of course, this doesn’t bother his fellow congressmen who have been scrambling to find ways on how to hide their pork barrel in the 2014 budgets of different departments and in various lump sums like the P80-billion unprogrammed fund, the P20-billion rehabilitation fund, and the P2.5-billion scholarship fund. They also hope that the Aquino administration will continue the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) that has been an additional source of pork barrel.

    Congressmen really had to use their ingenuity to hide their pork after the Supreme Court had ruled the Priority Development Assistance Fund unconstitutional. Their reliance on the DAP for additional pork might also end should the High Tribunal also declare it unconstitutional. (Our senior reporter, Jomar Canlas, reported that Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, is lobbying for DAP). It’s no wonder that Rep. Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro is leading a move to impeach SC justices who have rendered the decision unfavorable to congressmen. An endorsement by 97 or one-third of the 289 congressmen would suffice to initiate an impeachment complaint.

    Chilling effect of Corona impeachment
    I remember the previous comment by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago that the impeachment of then-Chief Justice Renato Corona could have a chilling effect on the judiciary. She said that henceforth justices of the Supreme Court might be hesitant to rule against the interests of lawmakers because they might be impeached like Corona.

    Well, the SC ruled to void the PDAF. Lawmakers can live with this as long as there’s the old reliable DAP that they can lean on. If the DAP is declared unconstitutional as well, then hell will break loose. The voice of the people against pork will meaning nothing to the supposed people’s representatives, or the one in Malacañang who claims the people are his bosses.

    The reality is district congressmen need the pork more than senators and party-list representatives who have no geographically defined constituencies. Senators can win reelection even without pork as shown by Senators Joker Arroyo and Ping Lacson. In the case of reelectionist congressmen, an overwhelming majority regained their seat, thanks to their pork whether judiciously or injudiciously used. Nonreelectionist congressmen are generally succeeded by their close relatives. New faces come in only when they could out-spend the incumbents or the incumbents’ relatives.

    The DAP should go the way of the PDAF so that new faces with qualifications other than money and birthright could have more chances in the polls. Of course, this presupposes that the Precinct Count Optical Scan wouldn’t go haywire again.



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