Philippine presidential bets want Marcos to pay $3.8 billion tax

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(From left to right) Philippine presidential candidates Leni Robredo, Isko Moreno, Ping Lacson, and Manny Pacquiao. (Sources: Robredo - Geric Cruz/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Moreno - REUTERS/Adrian Portugal; Lacson - Ping Lacson/Facebook; Pacquiao - Manny Pacquiao/Instagram)
(From left to right) Philippine presidential candidates Leni Robredo, Isko Moreno, Ping Lacson, and Manny Pacquiao. (Sources: Robredo - Geric Cruz/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Moreno - REUTERS/Adrian Portugal; Lacson - Ping Lacson/Facebook; Pacquiao - Manny Pacquiao/Instagram)

By Ditas Lopez and Cecilia Yap

Presidential candidates in the Philippines want frontrunner Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and his family to pay about P200 billion ($3.8 billion) in taxes levied on his father’s estate.

Collecting the taxes from the heirs of the late dictator can support the economic recovery and aid the poor amid surging oil prices, candidates including Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Vice President Leni Robredo said during Saturday’s Commission on Elections debate. Marcos Jr. didn’t attend.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Presidential Commission on Good Government are trying to collect the taxes, which were worth 23 billion pesos in 1997 and may have already reached 200 billion pesos based on some estimates, Rappler reported on March 16. Marcos, in a virtual forum on March 16, said “there’s a lot of fake news” involved in the issue and added he preferred to leave it to the lawyers.

Here are some snippets of the key candidates’ plans:

Leni Robredo

  • She would set up a 100 billion peso stimulus fund for small businesses, many of which shut due to the pandemic and left millions without jobs. The fund will provide subsidies and low-interest rate loans to build capacity and digitization.

  • Her administration’s infrastructure program would focus on rural development, mass transportation, water resources and climate-resilient projects.

  • She aims to meet or surpass the government’s Covid-19 vaccination targets, boost hospital capacity and make testing cheap and accessible. “Let’s not wait for another surge to beef up testing, tracing and treatment,” she said.

Isko Moreno

  • He would open up the economy further to provide more jobs.

  • He would decentralize development from Manila and allocate more funds to far-flung provinces.

  • Moreno said President Rodrigo Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program was successful, but was derailed by the pandemic. He would continue it and build more schools, hospitals and energy sources.

Panfilo Lacson

  • He would prioritize smaller businesses that make up 99.5% of all establishments in the country and shift the government’s infrastructure program into public-private partnerships.

  • He would hasten the nation’s transition from Covid-19 pandemic to endemic.

  • A virology center would be established to serve as the country’s first line of defense against Covid and future mutations.

Manny Pacquiao

  • Boosting economic output, providing aid to small businesses, ensuring jobs and disciplined spending to aid the economic recovery.

  • He would continue the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program and bolster infrastructure in Visayas and Mindanao.

  • Decent housing for all Filipinos would be a priority under his presidency.

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