Pacman told: Don’t use politics vs tax problems

Manila, Philippines - A party-list lawmaker has asked Sarangani Rep. Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao not to use politics as part of a strategy to smooth over his tax problems with the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III, a former justice secretary, said it would be better for Pacquiao not to use politics to defend himself in the P2.2 billion tax case slapped against him by BIR.

“For his (Pacquiao) sake, he should not use politics as legal strategy,” he said in the wake of reports that Pacquiao may be joining the House opposition bloc led by San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora.

Bello said their group is ready to welcome Pacquiao, a member of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) which had earlier allied with the majority coalition led by Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr.

Earlier, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA secretary general, expressed confidence that Pacquiao would not jump ship but said he would respect the boxing champ’s decision on the matter.

“When I spoke to him, he did not tell me about this,” Tiangco said. “But I am confident he will not leave UNA.”

Meanwhile, members of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) staged at the BIR main office along Agham Road in Quezon City to denounce what they called the “persecution” of boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.

Carrying placards that read “Go after greedy capitalist, not Pacman,” the KMU said government should go after big name businessmen who are into tax dodging racket.

In a press statement, KMU spokesman Elmor Labog said government should spare the hardworking athlete like Pacquiao from investigation and should go after capitalists who allegedly owe the country more.

“The government is grossly mistaken if it thinks that being tough on Pacquiao would improve its international reputation,” Labog said. (With a report from Jun Ramirez)