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BIZ BUZZ: The fact-checker we need

/ 05:20 AM May 20, 2022

It’s tough to navigate the vast sea of online disinformation. Thankfully, there are helpful voices like that of heiress, businesswoman and wildlife activist Katrina Razon.

Many know of Razon as the daughter of ports and gaming billionaire Enrique Razon Jr., the savvy tycoon who makes even savvier political bets as is common and even necessary among the country’s business elite.

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The younger Razon, however, has no qualms about taking opposing sides, especially if these align with her principles.

Razon, who openly shares her views on Twitter, is an outspoken supporter of defeated presidential candidate Leni Robredo. Even then, she understands that disinformation cuts both ways, even from those within her chosen camp.

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She was among those who corrected the misimpression that presumptive President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. held his postelection celebration in her father’s casino. In fact, it was held in his campaign headquarters in Mandaluyong City.

She was also among the earliest to debunk rumors of a huge Marcos victory party in the exclusive Amanpulo in Palawan. She would know, having spent plenty of time in the island-paradise herself.

Razon is not afraid to even call out former classmates who “willingly chose to forget our collective past” as historical accuracy falls victim of revisionism, whether in its casual or state-sponsored forms.

To be sure, witnessing a candidate who stood for your beliefs lose during a consequential election cycle is difficult, and for this Razon has useful advice.

“To those feeling helpless: know that someone out there needs you. Go volunteer. Fund a noteworthy cause. I can tell you there’s a nation of people out there who needs you at this moment. You matter.” she said in a tweet three days after the polls.

—Miguel R. Camus

That Megaworld-BIR tiff . . .

We’ve heard that no less than Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III “intervened” during Tuesday’s tussle between the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and real estate giant Megaworld Corp.

Since he supervises the BIR as well as oversees capital market development, there’s no doubt Dominguez just wanted to strike a balance—collect taxes while preventing a market rout over negative news about a blue-chip stock.

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Dominguez asked the two parties—for Megaworld, the Finance chief reached out to president and chair Andrew Tan himself—to discreetly resolve the issue and avoid making public statements, according to our sources.

Megaworld issued another press release defending itself on Wednesday, the day it was supposed to be meted out with a closure order by the BIR.

A tax expert familiar with the BIR’s internal processes said Megaworld might have committed lapses by failing to quickly resolve the issue with the BIR regional office.

“Megaworld should have answered the issues raised by the BIR task force before these escalated to the issuance of a closure order,” the source said.

The expert added Megaworld might have also erred on the issue of jurisdiction.

Recall that this hullabaloo involved the BIR’s revenue region 8B covering south Metro Manila, even as Megaworld was being audited by the taxman’s large taxpayers’ service, which collects big corporation’s dues. Revenue regions, on the other hand, usually go after smaller businesses and individual taxpayers.

But the expert explained the BIR has a revenue special order which formed the task force on one-time transactions covering real estate developers. This BIR order supposedly supersedes jurisdiction, hence also covers the joint venture between Megaworld and the state-run Bases Conversion and Development Authority to develop the Uptown Bonifacio property.

The source explained that the BIR’s special order covering property firms invokes Section 5 of the Tax Code, which empowers the Internal Revenue Commissioner to audit. As such, the task force running after Megaworld was also authorized to do so, on behalf of the BIR chief.

So does this mean that the BIR-Megaworld saga is not yet over?

As the BIR’s subsequent media advisory had said: The closure order was just “being held in abeyance until further notice.”

—Miguel R. Camus and Ben O. de Vera
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TAGS: Katrina Razon, Megaworld Corp., online disinformation
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