Philippines readies tax charges against Arroyo son

MANILA, April 7, 2011 (AFP) – Philippine revenue officials asked state prosecutors Thursday to file tax fraud charges against a member of parliament who is a son of former president Gloria Arroyo.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue alleges House of Representatives member Juan Miguel Arroyo and his wife, Maria Angela, dodged 73.85 million pesos ($1.7 million) in taxes from 2005 to 2009.

The complaint is the first step towards the filing of charges in court against the couple that could land them 10-year jail terms, said Kim Henares, the chief tax commissioner.

Henares and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima denied that it was part of a continuing political battle between President Benigno Aquino and his predecessor and rival ex-president Arroyo.

“We file cases because of evidence. It is not because of any personality. Our cases are always based on what we can prove,” Henares told a press conference.

De Lima said the tax complaint could lead to more serious criminal charges.

“We can evaluate this with the end view of building up other cases (involving) the anti-graft and corrupt practices act,” she said.

However the congressman, popularly known as “Mikey”, denied any wrongdoing and said he was being denied due process because the government was too eager to file charges against him.

Mikey Arroyo told ABS-CBN television that he received a letter of audit two days ago, giving him 10 days to respond but the officials had made the announcement even before this period was up.

“They should have waited for the 10 days given to me so my lawyers can explain with the proper documentation,” he said.

Arroyo said he was happy they filed charges against him so he could respond in the proper forum.

President Aquino, who was elected on a landslide last year, has vowed to go after Gloria Arroyo, now also a sitting member of parliament like her two sons, for alleged corruption during her nine years in office.

However the Arroyo matriarch still has numerous political allies who in the past had voted down two impeachment attempts against her when she was still president.

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