MANILA–Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre on Wednesday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to build up the case against the controversial tobacco firm Mighty Corporation.
He said the Department of Justice would also issue lookout bulletin order against other executives of the tobacco firm after earlier issuing a similar order to the controversial tobacco firm’s owner Alex Wongchuking.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier ordered the arrest of Wongchuking for economic sabotage over his firm’s alleged use of fake cigarette tax stamps.
Wongchuking presented himself last week to the NBI but was not arrested.
Aguirre said the businessman could not be arrested because there is no case filed against him.
He noted that Mighty Corporation has accepted the challenge of President Duterte to pay at least PHP3 billion as settlement for its excise tax liabilities.
Aguirre said the Office of the President has received Wongchuking’s letter signifying his willingness to pay the amount which will be used for the construction of hospitals in Basilan and Jolo, Sulu as well as the improvement the Mary Johnston Hospital in Manila.
”Ibinigay ng Mighty Corp ang kanilang pagsang-ayon na sila ay magbayad ng PHP3-billion sumangayon na sila sa ating Pangulo pagkat gusto na nila makapag resume ng kanilang operation at kung ano man ang gagawin procedure ay handa silang sundin ito,” Aguirre explained.
”Sumulat sila sa Pangulo at sinabi nila na handa silang tumalima sa kagustuhan ng Pangulo na magbayad ang Mighty (Corporation), although dahil medyo malaki-laki ang pera kung pwede PHP1 billion muna and then yung balance, uutay utayin akala kasi nila eh yung sinabi ng Pangulo, PHP1 billion sa Tawi Tawi, PHP1 billion sa Sulu, PHP1 billion sa Tondo, ay tama naman si (Finance) Secretary (Carlos) Dominguez, magiging donation lang ‘yon ang PHP3 billion dapat pumasok muna sa general fund ng gobyerno,” he explained.
Earlier, the DOJ Secretary assured that the government is determined to collect Mighty Corp’s tax obligations once it is established.
“I believe that the proper thing to do is for the representatives of Mighty Corp., the Department of Finance (DOF), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the DoJ to sit down and to fully determine the exact liabilities of Mighty Corp. if any and for the government to collect what is rightfully due to it,” Aguirre noted.
“If the DOF or the BIR or the BOC will determine that a criminal case should be filed against Mighty Corp., its officers or against Alex Wong Chu King with us at the DOJ, then we will faithfully discharge our duty and determine if probable cause exists,” he added.
Earlier, the BOC said it mulls the filing of a PHP1 billion tax evasion case against Mighty Corporation for alleged failure to pay the amount in excise taxes to the government.
The BOC also said it intends to suspect the company’s import accreditation due to findings that it allegedly smuggled cigarettes into the country.
Mighty Corporation was able to secure a temporary restraining order from the Manila Regional Trial Court against the raids.
In response, the BOC filed an administrative case before the SC against Judge Tita Alisuag who has issued the TRO.