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President prefers full payment of Lam’s dues

by Genalyn D. Kabiling

President Duterte is open to a compromise with big tax evaders but has drawn the line against installment payments of tax settlements.

The President has rejected Chinese gaming tycoon Jack Lam’s proposal to pay his tax liabilities in eight installments, saying he prefers the payment of the full amount.

Duterte, in his recent public remarks in Malacanang, explained that he intends to use the additional revenues to improve the facilities of public hospitals in Basilan and Jolo.

“He has offered to pay 888 installments. Sabi ko, “No, No, No,” Duterte said, referring to Lam who faces arrest over allegations of bribery and economic sabotage.

“Sabi ko, give it to me at once because as I have announced earlier I will build a hospital sa Basilan worth P1 billion, Jolo, and Mary Johnston,” he added.

Duterte said he would ask the Philippine Army to upgrade the public hospitals to provide better healthcare to the constituents.

Lam left the country after Duterte ordered his arrest for alleged bribery and economic sabotage last December. Authorities have also shut down gaming properties owned by Lam after more than 1,000 illegal Chinese workers were arrested last year.

The President later said he would allow Lam to return to the country if he passes his back taxes. Lam must also agree to a renegotiation of his contract that had him remitting only one percent of revenues to the government, Duterte said.

Lam reportedly owes P13.9 billion to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

Duterte, in his recent remarks, admitted that he wanted to kill Lam after reading an intelligence “briefer” the tycoon has been bragging about bribing people in government. “Itong si Jack Lam na gusto kong patayin pero nakasibat,” he said.

“You know why I ordered his arrest? No specific charge but he was there in Clark. When he was talking he was saying that everybody was in his pocket,” he said.

Duterte said he called the National Bureau of Investigation to arrest Lam even without a formal case filed against him. “Sabi ko, “Arestuhin mo.” I called NBI. Sabi niya, “Anong charge, Sir?” “Ah walang charge, charge basta kung maghingi ng charge patayin mo ‘yung ang charge.” Charge to experience,” he said.

Last month, the President said he prefers to forge a reasonable compromise with tax evaders instead of filing a case that may take years. He said he needs the money now to bankroll the improvement of public healthcare services.