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Gov’t mulls raps vs Mighty Corp.

The government is considering the criminal prosecution of Mighty Corporation amid allegations of economic sabotage despite its willingness to settle the civil aspect of the case.

President Duterte has ordered government lawyers to study if there is enough evidence to file a criminal case against the owner of the tobacco company, according to Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

“I’ve been instructed to study and prepare a case against Mighty cigarettes,” Panelo told reporters in the Palace.

“They are supposed to pay some taxes. They avoided that then we can prosecute them. With respect to the discovery of false tax stamps, that’s another case,” he added.

Asked if the case against the tobacco firm would involve tax evasion or economic sabotage, Panelo said economic sabotage charges could be filed if the amount reaches P1 billion and above.

He disclosed that during the previous administration, Bureau of Internal Revenue initiated a probe into the Mighty owners but failed to file the case.

Asked if the government will pursue a financial settlement of the civil aspect of the case, Panelo said: “Certainly but that depends on the computation by the BIR as well as the customs commissioner.”

Under the law, Panelo said civil liability can be settled but “criminal prosecution will have to proceed.”

Panelo said he has already requested the documents concerning Mighty tax records for study. He said his study would be done in coordination with the Department of Justice.

“The President directed me to look over the legal issues into the case,” he added.

The President earlier agreed to settle the tax deficiency of Mighty Corp if it will pay P3 billion to the government. The funds, Duterte proposed, will be used to upgrade government hospitals in some parts of the country. (Genalyn Kabiling)