EX-PHILIPPINE President Ferdinand E. Marcos and his family at the presidential palace on the day of his 1965 inaugural. — MALACANANG.GOV.PH

THE FAMILY of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos still owes the government billions of pesos in estate and income taxes, according to the agency tasked to recover ill-gotten wealth of Mr. Marcos and his cronies, as it debunked a claim that the tax case was still under litigation.

In a letter, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) on Tuesday noted that as early as 1993, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) had issued its final assessment when it levied and sold 11 Marcos properties in Tacloban City.

“As early as 1997, the judgment on the tax case had become final and executory,” PCGG Chairman John A. Agbayani said in the letter-reply to Aksyon Demokratiko Chairman Ernesto M. Ramel, Jr., who had sought clarification on the tax lawsuit.

Aksyon Demokratiko, the political party of Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” M. Domagoso, who is running against Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. in this year’s presidential race, provided reporters with a copy of the PCGG letter.

Mr. Ramel in a March 9 letter to PCGG earlier sought clarification whether the government had reached a deal on the taxes.

If there was indeed a deal, PCGG must disclose the details because these are a “matter of public interest,” he said. “If your answer is ‘No,’ then this is another proof that the camp of Marcos, Jr. has again lied as they always do in so many issues about their family, including their ill-gotten wealth.”

He said the Marcos family’s refusal to settle the taxes is a clear demonstration of “abuse of power, disregard for the laws enforced by the government and lack of respect for citizens who religiously pay the taxes imposed on them.”

Marcos lawyer and spokesman Victor D. Rodriguez did not immediately reply to a text message seeking comment.

He earlier said the pieces of property subject to the tax were still under litigation. He also said PCGG and BIR had agreed to wait for a decision on the case before collections were enforced.

In its letter, PCGG said there was a “verbal understanding” between it and BIR to collect estate taxes on all Marcos assets except those that had been seized by the government, as well as Swiss funds in escrow.

“It may not be accurate to state that the said agreement was ‘to determine with accuracy the fair and just tax base to be used in computing estate taxes, if any’ because as early as 1993, BIR already executed its final assessment when it levied and sold 11 real properties in Tacloban City,” it said.

PCGG said BIR in 1991 assessed the estate of Ferdinand Marcos P23.29 billion in estate taxes, P184.16 million in unpaid income taxes of Mr. Marcos and his wife Imelda for 1985 and 1986 and P20,410 in unpaid income taxes against the dictator for 1982 to 1985.

In 1993, BIR levied and auctioned off 11 Marcos properties in Tacloban after the family failed to file an administrative protest. The lots were awarded to the state in the absence of bidders, PCGG said.

The Supreme Court in 1997 denied a plea by Marcos, Jr. to void the levies as it ruled the tax assessments had become final and unappealable.

The P23-billion estate tax had ballooned to P203.8 billion due to interests and penalties after the Marcoses refused to pay it, Mr. Ramel said in a Viber message, citing computations by retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio T. Carpio in a Sept. 30, 2021 column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“Twenty-four years after the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals decision, the Marcos heirs still have not paid the estate tax,” Mr. Carpio said at that time.

The former magistrate has called the supposed agreement “wrong, a falsehood and laughable.” “There is no such thing,” he told GMA News last week, adding that the Supreme Court ruling on the case had become final.

The younger Mr. Marcos, who is leading in presidential opinion polls, was convicted in 1995 for failing to pay taxes from 1982 to 1985 when he was governor and vice governor of Ilocos Norte.

The Commission on Elections has dismissed several lawsuits seeking to disqualify him from the presidential race, saying his failure to file income tax returns did not involve wicked, deviant behavior. At least five of the six dismissed cases were under appeal.

The Ateneo de Manila University’s Martial Law Museum last year said the Marcos family and their allies continue to benefit from the billions of pesos stolen from public coffers during his father’s dictatorship and “they continue to escape accountability for their actions.”

The dictator stole as much as $10 billion (P503 billion) from the Filipino people, according to government estimates, earning him a Guinness World Record for the “greatest robbery of a government.”

PCGG, created in 1987 to recover ill-gotten wealth of the family and their cronies, has recovered about P171 billion. — Norman P. Aquino and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza