Duterte orders owner of Mighty Corp arrested
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday ordered the owner of a cigarette manufacturing company arrested for allegedly using fake tax stamps.
“Yes, yes, I ordered his arrest.. He’s the one behind it.. fake cigarette stamps,” Duterte told reporters in Malacanang.
The person was Alexander Wong Chu King, owner of Mighty Cigarettes, who is being investigated by the Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Duterte also clarified the alleged bribery by Mighty Corp. He said there is no bribery because King did not say anything to him but he ordered his aide, Christopher Go, to return it to King upon seeing the package contained money.
Earlier, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said a "package," which was initially construed as a wine, was left to Duterte by the "owner" of the cigarette company.
"He (Duterte) thought it was wine but when (Christopher) Bong Go, Special Assistant to the President, opened it, he saw money. That's why he asked to return it, and (the one who gave the package) was caught up in the airplane," he said.
It was not clear where and when the alleged bribery took place.
Mighty Corp. is allegedly one of the cigarette companies reportedly using fake stamps in its operation to avoid paying taxes.
In a statement Tuesday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the Bureaus of Internal Revenue and Customs are "are now busy? gathering evidence for submission to the Department of Justice (DOJ), preparatory to the government's filing of an air-tight case against Mighty Corp. for tax evasion and other possible charges."
Dominguez issued this statement on the heels of his call on the BIR and BOC last week to file soon appropriate charges against persons and companies proven to be the owners of P2.2 billion-worth of smuggled and counterfeit tobacco products, shoes and clothes that government agents had seized in a series of raids.
Authorities earlier raided warehouses in Pampanga and the cities of General Santos and Zamboanga in Mindanao and among those seized goods were cigarette brands manufactured by Mighty Corp. with fake tax stamps.
"They (BOC and BIR) should speed up their investigations and also look into the possible involvement of bureaucrats acting as protectors of these large-scale tax evasion attempts," Dominguez said.
King’s lawyer Sigfrid Fortun said he and his client met with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to” appraise us about the supposed excise tax deficiency.”
“The company has decided to cooperate fully in accordance to what Secretary Aguirre had conveyed with regards to the wishes of the president that he wanted to find out what happened to the allegedly faked excise tax stamps” Fortun said.
When asked if his client is ready to pay the supposed tax deficiency, Fortun said there is ‘a process and assessment” but for now, Wong Chu King is ready to cooperate. Celerina Monte/DMS