By: Limuel S. Celebria
AT A RECENT house-blessing in Manila by a prominent Ilonggo businessman, former Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. was approached by a top official of the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Gonzalez and the revenue officer didn’t know each other personally but the government functionary felt he had something to tell the man – sir, we are under orders by the higher ups to dig up cases against you.
That is not a surprise, of course. Everybody knows this current administration, under the guise of its “daang matuwid” propaganda line, is running not just after former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and company but also everybody else who is seen as a political threat. Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia soon after she took oath with the opposition’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Pambansang Kamao Manny Pacquiao (before the Nationalista Party coalesced with the Liberal Party), to name just a couple, are now in the taxman’s crosshairs. Heck, even the old cases against Vice President Jejomar Binay when he was mayor of Makati are being revisited!
So far, they have found nothing ‘incriminative’ against Gonzalez except for the gift of a carbine rifle to Dra. Pacita Gonzalez more than 20 years ago when she was a Bataan Representative. Whatever offense was committed in receiving that firearm may already have prescribed. However, the assigned prosecutor is afraid to dismiss the case because he might get dismissed from the service himself.
Aside from the taxman, also tasked to do a yeoman’s job in digging up shit against the opposition is the Office of the Ombudsman, also known as the Mona Lisa agency (you know the song… “many dreams have been brought to your doorstep, they just lie there… and they die there”). A top official of that constitutional office admitted to us that, indeed, they were told to do some shit spading against not just Gonzalez but also Congressman Ferjenel Biron, and others on orders of a big man in the senate.
So far, try as they may, they’ve found nothing against Rep. Biron who is cleaner than clean, his honesty and integrity being not just a slogan and a drummed-up reality, but a way of life founded on unshakeable faith and morality. Against Gonzalez, they are dusting off the cobwebs on an electioneering case filed by Senator Ping Lacson when Gonzalez allegedly bribed the barangay captains into campaigning for a 12-0 rout of the senatorial opposition against GMA’s slate in 2007.
This is all a witch hunt, really, ridiculous at best. But in a vengeful administration with an ally shamelessly capable of inventing cases that are not even in the statutes, like “rebellion complexed with murder,” it’s always best to be very cautious. After all, one can never tell who’s sleeping underneath your bed.
Which is why nobody in Iloilo is buying the yarn that the tax evasion case filed by the taxman against businessman Rommel Ynion isn’t politically motivated.
Just minutes after the BIR filed a case against Ynion with the Department of Justice, Mayor Jed Mabilog was already told about it. Soon after Mabilog sent this text blast to all his punong barangays: (sic) Today 16 Aug at 11:00. BIR filed 84 million tax evasion case against Ynion. Of course, Jed ought to know. Ynion, after all, is the man who will unseat, if not unzip, him from city hall in next year’s election.
In terms of propaganda value, however, Ynion should thank Jed and Senator Franklin Drilon. The case not just portrayed Ynion as the unfortunate victim of a witch hunt, an underdog which should score well with the voters. It also disproves, without need for further explanation, other issues raised by his detractors – i.e, that he is indebted and that he had questionable sources of wealth. The BIR charge sheet fairly established, once and for all, that Ynion is a legitimate businessman with income running in the hundreds of millions of pesos, annually. And that is from just one, solely-owned company (a single proprietorship at that, according to BIR). Finally, this proves that they are afraid of Ynion; that he is no lightweight, politically.
The real question is this: faced with unfounded and underhanded aggression from the powers that be, will Ynion tuck his tail between his legs? Will he compromise, as most businessmen do when they hear the taxman breathing down their necks? Or will he continue to run even if his balls are served to him on a platter? In which direction will he be running? We should know soon enough.