Press Release
November 26, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged finance and revenue authorities to take steps to collect so-called aero fees that airline firms should pay the government for landing rights and the use of the countrys air space.

Pimentel said he is in possession of documents showing that P3.6 billion in aero-fees has remained uncollected as of July 31, 2005.

He said the airlines have been remiss in the payment of the huge amount of aero-fees for the landing rights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and other airports in the country.

Pimentel said extra efforts should be exerted by the aviation authorities to collect the aero-fees considering the governments financial constraints.

This will not wipe out the budget deficit. But if these fees are collected, the governments budget deficit will somehow be reduced, he said.

The minority leader requested the Senate finance committee, chaired by Sen. Franklin Drilon, to look into the uncollected aero-fees. He also turned over to Drilon two sets of documents containing the names of the airlines with unpaid aero fees, and the corresponding airports that should collect the fees.

Meanwhile, Pimentel expressed dissatisfaction with the way the government is pursuing the campaign against tax evasion.

He sought an explanation from the Department of Finance about the efforts expended to clamp down on the big-time tax evaders, and to prosecute and put them in jail.

I have yet to hear of a single tax evader who has gone behind bars to pay for his offense, the minority leader said.

During recent floor deliberations on the proposed 2007 national budget, Sen. Drilon said officials of the Bureau of Internal Revenue reported that they are implementing the Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) program, resulting in a significant increase in tax collection.

However, Drilon said the BIR has not furnished the finance committee a listing of the delinquent taxpayers and how much has been collected from them.

But according to the annual report of the BIR, it has filed 44 tax evasion and estafa cases against delinquent corporate and individual taxpayers with an estimate aggregate tax liability of P2.9 billion.

Pimentel said he understands that just one outstanding personality in the business world owes the government some P107 billion in taxes.

He pointed out that in tax evasion case, the government may appeal a ruling in a tax evasion case that is unfavorable to the government.

Drilon, for his part, said the acquittal of a suspected tax evader would not prevent the filing of a civil suit against him for the collection of the tax due.

Pimentel said if the government is loathe to see the people go to jail due to tax evasion, then the government can at least compel the erring taxpayers to settle their tax liabilities.

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