Embattled cigarette maker Mighty Corporation and its officials asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday to dismiss the P26.93-billion tax evasion complaint against them by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) over alleged use of fake tax stamps.
Mighty Corporation Vice President for External Affairs and Assistant Corporate Secretary Alex Wongchuking attended the preliminary investigation hearing, where he filed his counter affidavit with the DOJ panel of prosecutors.
Other respondents Mighty President and former Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff Edilberto Adan, Executive Vice President and retired Judge Oscar Barrientos and Treasurer Ernesto Victa also submitted their written defense to the charges.
The complaint arose from raid on Mighty’s warehouses in San Ildefonso, Bulacan on March 24 which yielded billions of pesos worth of cigarettes with fake stamps.
“Basically the search that was done was illegal. There was no legal justification for it. The evidence that was obtained is doubtful,” said Abraham Espejo, legal counsel for Wongchuking after the hearing, which was off limits to media.
“If the evidence is obtained illegally, it’s inadmissible (in court). Not only is the evidence inadmissible, it’s also questionable,” he added.
Mighty officials also urged the DOJ to consolidate the three tax evasion cases since they stemmed from the same allegation about the use of fake tax stamps on its cigarette products.
The DOJ had already finished hearing the P9.56-billion tax complaint in relation to the raid on four warehouses in San Isidro, Pampanga.
The company is also facing a P1.39-billion tax complaint stemming from the government raid on the company’s warehouse in Barangay Lagao, General Santos City on March 24.
The third complaint brings to P37.884 billion its alleged tax dues to the government. —KG, GMA News