Aguirre says Mighty Corp owner tells Duterte inclined to pay settlement
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Wednesday the owner of cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp. wrote President Rodrigo Duterte saying he is willing to pay at least three billion pesos to settle its excise tax liabilities
Aguirre said the Office of President received the letter of Mighty Corp. owner Alexander Wongchuking expressing his inclination to pay the amount which will be used for building hospitals in Basilan and Jolo, Sulu as well as improve Mary Johnston Hospital in Manila.
"They accepted the offer of the president because they want to resume their operations already. They also vowed to follow the procedures if there will be cases here in the DOJ," Aguirre told reporters.
Aguirre clarified that the amount in the letter to the Office of the President was the original offer of P3 billion made by Duterte, who later corrected the amount to at least P15 billion.
The justice chief did not give details when the Office of the President received the letter from Mighty Corp and whether it was approved by Duterte.
Aguirre said the government could still pursue tax evasion cases against Mighty Corp.
"Once the cases are filed in the DOJ, that's when the settlement could come in," Aguirre said.
The justice department will issue lookout bulletin orders against other Mighty Corp executives after earlier issuing a similar order against Wongchuking, Aguirre said.
Aguirre said he has directed the National Bureau of Investigation to build a case against the firm.
Wongchuking presented himself last week to the National Bureau of Investigation but was not arrested, as initially ordered by Duterte.
Aguirre said then the businessman could not be arrested in the absence of cases filed against him.
Earlier this month, the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue confiscated 11,044 master cases of Mighty cigarettes worth P215 million in General Santos City and 62,200 master cases valued at P1.98 billion in San Simon, Pampanga.
Last week, BOC seized three more containers carrying Mighty cigarettes in the Port of Cebu and in Tacloban in an operation led by Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.
Mighty Corp. was able to secure a temporary restraining order from the Manila regional trial court against the raids. But customs filed an administrative case against Judge Tita Alisuag before the SC. DMS