Take it as a warning.
That was how Malacañang explained on Tuesday, May 2, President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that the government would take back government lands from oligarchs who were not paying their tax obligations.
“What he’s basically stressing is the seriousness of the matter that the property, government property needs to be returned,” Ernesto Abella, presidential spokesman, said in a news briefing.
“It is a warning, yes,” Abella added.
In a Labor Day speech in his hometown City of Davao on Monday, Duterte vowed to take back government lands from oligarchs with tax deficiencies.
“So within the next three months, I will tell the owners or those people claiming the government lands that you are not paying your taxes amounting to billions and you are using the lands of the government. It was unclear how you got that. If you won’t return the lands to the government, then I will ask the Filipino people to occupy the lands that are in your hands,” he said.
In his public speeches, the President has slammed oligarchs, whom he said has long controlled the country, including the political arena.
Despite the President’s attacks, Abella assured the administration would follow legal processes in going after the oligarchs.
The Palace official said the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) would look into and handle tax deficiencies of companies owned by oligarchs.
“That’s within the purview of the BIR. But basically there are really unpaid taxes and unpaid leases apparently regarding certain properties,” he said.