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A black eye for Pacquiao?

“Why am I being singled out?” complained Manny Pacquiao in front of the media.  He was referring to his latest bout with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) that garnished his bank accounts totaling P1.1 million, according to BIR Commissioner Kim Henares. 

My initial reaction was to side with Pacquiao. Afer all, he is my idol. I am his number 1 fan.  And like many Filipinos, I was stunned when his bank accounts were frozen a few days after he had just returned from a resounding victory over Brandon Rios.  The timing just did not make sense to some.  But if the freeze was imposed before the fight, it might have been worse since it could have distracted Pacquiao in his fight with Rios.

Pacquiao’s trouble with the BIR started in 2009 when he misdeclared his income, according to Henares.  He was given ample time to settle his delinquent taxes, but he never did.

Hit with a P2.2 billion tax that the BIR claims he owes, Pacquiao resorted to what he knew best:  fight back.

Pacquiao claimed political harassment since he is a member of the opposition.

He accused the BIR of singling him out. He asked why the bank accounts of those politicians involved in the pork barrel scam remain ungarnished.

He said he had earned his money the hard way, got beaten in the ring. Still, the government took his money.  “May mga tao na ayaw tayong maging masaya,” he said.

To get the sympathy of the public, he played with their emotions.  “Thieves are treated better,” Pacquiao said emphatically.  He alluded to the honor he has brought to the country and insinuated that he should be treated differently.

With his accounts garnished, he announced to the public that he would have to make a loan to give relief to the victims of typhoon Yolanda since he could not withdraw from his accounts. He probably thought that this would make the people rally behind him.

Even Pacquiao’s mom was shown on TV understandably defending her son, but acting impetuously. A few days later, she was shown on national TV hosting a dinner-dance party at her new house in the province amidst her son’s financial woes.

Henares was pummeled left and right in the social media.  But she bravely faced the opprobrium of Pacquiao’s supporters as she explained that she was just doing her job.

Yes, Henares was just doing her job and Pacquiao was not getting it.  As a congressman, he should be happy that Henares is doing her job of collecting taxes. I don’t know who to blame: Pacquiao’s lack of understanding how the BIR operates or Pacquiao’s advisers who want to make the BIR’s final assessment a political issue. Or, has Pacquiao’s phenomenal success as a prizefighter gotten into his head that he now thinks he should be treated with kids’ gloves?

Actually, the issue is easy to resolve. All Pacquiao has to do is pay his taxes. He has the money. If he already paid his taxes, as he claims, all he needs to do is show proof.  Even President Noynoy Aquino assured him not to worry if he has already paid his taxes.  End of story.

But he did not want the story to end. He created a brouhaha.  He portrayed himself as the victim. He marshaled his followers to support him with a sense of urgency. Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has expressed his ambition to run for president, has now joined the fray. He said that Pacquiao “had not been remiss in his tax obligations, but the documents presented by Pacquiao were ignored.”

I hope Binay will just keep his mouth shut and leave it to the BIR and Pacquiao’s lawyers and accountants to resolve the issue.

I don’t know who Pacquiao’s trusted advisers are. I don’t know how much influence Chavit Singson has on him. I don’t know how he processes and sorts out the many information and suggestions that his trusted advisers give him. I just hope that his celebrity status doesn’t get into his head for it may lead him to believe, with his wealth and popularity, he can get away with anything.

This will make him no different from all the trapos including Tanda, Pogi and Sexy.