The Supreme Court has sustained the Court of Tax Appeals decision dismissing the tax evasion case against former party-list Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo.
In a 13-page resolution, the SC’s First Division dismissed the appeal filed by the government citing “procedural defects and substantive deficiencies.”
The government through the Bureau of Internal Revenue had sought the reversal of the CTA decision last March 21, 2018 that absolved Arroyo of all charges of tax evasion due to insufficiency of evidence.
The CTA ruling stated that BIR “did not discover the sources of Arroyo’s vaunted income, fully disclosed the various reasons why the State’s theory of the charges could not prosper, and how the chosen audit procedure known as the net worth method did not suffice to prove his criminal liability under the information [charge sheet].”
“In criminal cases, the quantum of evidence required is proof beyond reasonable doubt; hence, the Prosecution’s inability to identify the likely sources of the unreported or undeclared income of the taxpayer was a sure index of its failure to discharge the quantum,” the SC noted, in upholding the CTA ruling.
The BIR, through the Office of the Solicitor General immediately took the case to the Supreme Court seeking its reversal.
However, the SC said that such decision to immediately take the case to the high court is premature. It said a motion for reconsideration should have been first filed before the CTA.
According to the high tribunal, the omission “was a gross violation of Section 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court which authorizes the petition for certiorari to be filed only when there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.”
“Procedural rules should be treated with utmost respect and due regard mainly because they have been crafted and designed to ensure the prompt adjudication of cases to remedy the worsening problem of delay in the resolution of rival claims and in the administration of justice,” the SC said.
Even assuming there was no procedural defect, the SC still ruled that the CTA “did not act capriciously or whimsically in absolving [respondent Arroyo] of the charges.”
The high court pointed out that the CTA “assiduously sifted the evidence and analysed the records in issuing the ruling.
The tax evasion case against Arroyo arose from the alleged attempt to evade or defeat tax liablities for the taxable years from 2004 to 2009 and failure to file income tax returns and pay income taxes for 2005, 2008 and 2009.