Supreme Court in 13-0 Unanimous Decision Reinstates 9 Tax Evasion Cases against Lucio Tan, 69 Associates

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Byline: REY G. PANALIGAN

The Supreme Court, in a 13-0 vote, reinstated yesterday the nine tax evasion cases involving R25.6 billion against businessman Lucio C. Tan, his 10 companies, and 69 of his business associates and ordered Branch 75 of the Marikina City metropolitan trial court (MeTC) to institute appropriate proceedings.

Tans criminal cases, denominated as 98-38181 to 98-38189, were filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in 1993 and charging him, his firms, and his associates with fraud in the payment of ad valorem, deficiency income, and value added taxes for the years 1990, 1991, and 1992.

After a round in all levels of the prosecution service and the judiciary, the cases were brought anew by the government before the Supreme Court on an issue of technicality used by the trial court in dismissing the cases.

Lt. Gen. (ret.) Salvador M. Mison issued the following statement:

"As spokesman for the Lucio C. Tan Group of Companies, I would like to respectfully beg off from making any comment at this time regarding the Supreme Court decision on the Lucio Tan tax case.

"We have yet to receive and read a copy of the decision. Thus it would be difficult, if not impossible, to issue an intelligent comment.

"Thank you very much for your kind understanding."

In a 34-page decision written by Justice Adolfo Azcuna, the High Court ruled that "criminal cases Nos. 98-38181 to 98-38189 are hereby remanded to the Metropolitan TrialCourt (MTC), Branch 75, Marikina City, for appropriate proceedings."

"Wherefore, the petition is granted and the decision of the Court of Appeals dated Aug. 29, 2000 in CAGR SP No. 56077 and the orders of the regional trial court of Marikina City dated Aug. 25, 1999 and Oct. 13, 1999 in SCA Case No. 95-340-MK are hereby reversed, and the orders dated March 22, 1999 and May 17, 1999 of the metropolitan trial court, Branch 75, Marikina City, dismissing the criminal informations filed by the DoJ (Department of Justice) panel against herein respondents, and denying the DoJ panels motion for reconsideration, are hereby declared null and void and set aside, and the criminal informations are reinstated," the High Court said.

Concurring with Azcuna were Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., Senior Justice Reynato Puno, and Justices Jose Vitug (in the result), Artemio Panganiban, Leonardo Quisumbing (in the result), Consuelo Ynares Santiago, Angelina Sandoval Gutierrez, Ma. Alicia Austria Martinez, Renato Corona, Conchita Carpio Morales, Romeo Callejo Sr., and Dante Tinga. Justice Antonio Carpio did not take part saying he was former presidential legal counsel and had made some recommendations on Tans cases.

Accused in the cases involving violations of the National Internal Revenu Code (NIRC), aside from Tan, were Antonio Abaya, Harry Tan, Carmen Khao Tan, Florencio Santos, Salvador Mison, Roxas Chua, Mariano Tanenglian, and Juanita Lee of Fortune Tobocco Corp.;

William Yu, Leticia Lim, Gloria Lopez, Robert Tantampo, Jose Tiu, Felipe Loy, and Luis See of Townsman Commercial Inc.;

Rolando Chua, Honorina Tan, Millie Tantamco, Henry Wechee, Jesus Lim, Teodoro Tan, Antonio Apostol, and Domingo Teng of Landmark Sales and Marketing Inc.;

Candelario Li, Teodoro Tan, Erlinda Cruz, Carlos Tumpalan, Larry John Sy, Ernesto Ong, and Wilfredo Macrohon of Crimson Croker Distributors Inc.;

Nemesio Tan, Quintin Calaleja, Yolanda Manalili, Carlos Chan, Romeo Tan, John Uy, and Vicente Co of Dagupan Combined Commodities Inc.;

Henry Choa, Lope Lim Guan, Emilio Tan, Felipe Tan, She Chuan, and Andres Co of First Union Trading Corp.;

Felipe Kee, Henry Go Co, Narciso Go, Adolfo Lim, Maximo Tan, Co Shu, and Daniel Yao of Carlsburg and Sons Inc.;

Gabriel Quientella, Nelson Te, Emilio Go, Edwin Lee, Cesar Ledesma Jr., and Jao Chep Seng of Omar Ali Distributors, Inc. …