THE HEIRS of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos maintained at the weekend their refusal to settle the family’s unpaid estate tax that has ballooned to more than P200 billion, asserting that the tax liability case is still pending in court.

“Our rivals are misdirecting everyone by claiming that the case has attained finality when the truth of the matter is, it is still pending in court,” Victor D. Rodriguez, spokesperson of Mr. Marcos’ only son Ferdinand “Bongbong” who is running for president in the May elections, said in a statement.

The Marcos family’s P23-billion estate tax liability has yet to be settled, the agency tasked to recover the family’s ill-gotten wealth said earlier this month.

The amount had ballooned to P203.8 billion due to interests and penalties after the Marcoses refused to pay it, retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio T. Carpio said in a Sept. 30, 2021 column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

He said that a 1997 High Court ruling that affirmed a decision by the Court of Appeals on the Marcos family’s estate tax liability is already final and executory.

The country’s tax agency last week confirmed that it sent a written demand to the Marcos family to settle their tax liabilities.

Mr. Rodriguez also claimed that the ownership of the properties in litigation has yet to be settled. “That being the case, the fair and just tax base to be used in computing the estate tax cannot yet be established with certainty.”

Former Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) chief Kim S. Jacinto-Henares said last week that the Marcoses should have asked the High Court to reconsider the amount of their estate tax liability when it released its decision.

“They had 30 days I believe to have appealed it,” she told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo. “If they have not, it’s now final and executory.”

Critics, including Mr. Carpio, have been calling on the BIR to file a criminal case against the Marcoses for refusing to pay their estate tax liability.

Ms. Henares, who was BIR commissioner from 2010 to 2016, said that it would be hard to pursue a criminal case against Mr. Marcos if he wins in May because of presidential immunity.

She said that the BIR under her leadership did not file a criminal case because they prioritized collecting properties that the family illegally acquired.

“During my time, we had been identifying and collecting properties,” Ms. Henares said, noting that government coffers were depleted when the late Benigno S.C. Aquino III assumed the presidency.

“I most probably would not have filed it also because if we did, we would not be able to do anything other than answering Marcos, which is not our main objective” she said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza