In a 13-page resolution dated Sept. 12 and released to newsmen Wednesday, the Court’s 1st Division cited “procedural defects and substantive deficiencies” in the petition of the government challenging the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) acquitting Arroyo.
The tax court had cleared the son of former president and now House of Representatives Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of charges of attempting to evade or defeat tax liabilities for taxable years 2004 to 2009, and for failure to file their income tax returns and to pay income taxes for the taxable years 2005, 2008, and 2009.
The high court held that “the CTA in Division did not act capriciously or whimsically in absolving (Arroyo) of the charges.”
The Court pointed out that “(t)he CTA in Division assiduously sifted the evidence and analyzed the records; it explained the merits of the charges upon reviewing the elements of the offenses charged and determining whether or not the evidence adduced by the Prosecution established such elements.”
“Also, the CTA, noting that the (Bureau of Internal Revenue) 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,” it added.
In criminal cases, it said, 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 government questioned the CTA’s March 21, 2018 decision acquitting Arroyo of all the charges for failure of the State to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt and dismissed the civil actions to collect the tax deficiencies deemed instituted on the basis that the acts or omissions from which the civil liability might arise did not transpire.
The SC also held that the State prematurely filed the petition for certiorari because it did not first file a motion for reconsideration of the adverse ruling on the criminal aspect. The omission, the Court held, “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.”
The Court added that “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.”