MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte wants to seal a P5-billion compromise with Mighty Corp. so he can use the money despite objections from Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, who said the tobacco firm should be paying no less than P15 billion for attempting to defraud government.
This was disclosed Wednesday by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, who said Duterte raised the issue during this week’s Cabinet meeting.
In early March, Duterte suggested that he would be willing to take P3 billion — double the worth of the fake tax stamps found on Mighty Corp. products stored in warehouses — so he could use the money to fix three government hospitals, two in Mindanao and one in Tondo.
However, the proposal drew flak from several quarters who pointed out that government stood to make anywhere between P10-15 billion if it sued the firm.
During the Cabinet meeting, Aguirre said Duterte asked Dominguez how much a compromise would be worth.
“Sabi ko, ‘Nag-declare na kayo na P3 billion (I said, ‘You already declared P3 billion),” Aguirre recalled.
When Dominguez opposed the compromise, Duterte suggested “baka puwedeng dagdagan ng P2 billion na lang kasi (can P2 billion be added because) I want to use the money. Otherwise, kung maglabanan kayo aabutin pa ng sampung taon (if you fight it out you will reach 10 years),” Aguirre added.
“In order for the president to use the money, the compromise should be seriously considered,” the Justice secretary said.
Aside from this, he said, Duterte also considered the number of employees who might be dislocated if Mighty Corp. is forced to close shop.
Meanwhile, Aguirre said the DOJ is also studying whether to consolidate the two tax evasion cases filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue against Mighty Corp. and its officials, “unless there is a special reason (for the cases) not to be consolidated.”