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Pacquiao short on funds for typhoon victims

Pacquiao says freeze to bank accounts making it difficult to help victims of super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Last updated: 26 Nov 2013 19:51
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Philippine boxing hero Pacquiao promised to help typhoon victims in his country [Getty Images]

Despite returning as a hero after beating Brandon Rios over the weekend, Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao has said he has no money to keep his promise to help typhoon victims because his bank accounts have been frozen by bank authorities.

The Philippine Bureau of Internal Revenue says Pacquiao hasn't proved he paid taxes in 2008-2009, and says he owes 2.2 billion pesos ($50m) in back taxes as of July.

Pacquiao, the wealthiest member of the Philippine Congress, said on Tuesday he borrowed more than 1 million pesos ($22,700) to buy relief supplies before his fight on Sunday with Rios in Macau, and will borrow more to keep his word to typhoon victims. Pacquiao said he plans to provide aid to more than 10,000 families.

Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons on record, ploughed through the central Philippines in October, killing more than 5,200 people and destroying entire towns.

'Not a thief'

Pacquiao said he paid taxes in the United States following his victories against Ricky Hatton and Oscar de la Hoya and that a treaty prevents double taxation. A criminal case was dropped by prosecutors for alleged unpaid taxes in 2010, but the revenue authorities' tax claims for the 2008-2009 are still pending.

"I appeal to them to remove the garnishment so that I can move and pay for my staff's salaries," Pacquiao said in his southern hometown of General Santos city. "I am not a criminal or a thief."

He said his wife's accounts had also been frozen.

Pacquiao said if he had not paid the right taxes in the US, he would have been arrested during one of his visits there.

"The money that was garnished by [the Bureau of Internal Revenue] is not stolen," he said. "This came from all of the punches, beatings, blood and sweat that I endured in the ring."

He said the revenue agency's claims that he earned more than he declared were baseless.

The revenue commissioner, Kim Henares, said that the only proof Pacquiao has given of his tax payments in the US was a letter from promoter Top Rank and television channel HBO, but nothing from the US Internal Revenue Service.

"That is self-serving and a mere scrap of paper," she said. "What he can do is go to the IRS, ask IRS to certify this copy as a true copy. We have been waiting for that for two years."

She said of 22 banks her agency has ordered to report on Pacquiao's accounts, only two said they held deposits for Pacquiao and that the total was only 1.1 million pesos ($25,200), which is now covered by the garnish.

"It is unbelievable to me that he has only 1.1 million pesos," Henares said.

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