Philippine President Benigno Aquino yesterday warned the nation's ethnic Chinese businessmen who are failing to pay their share of tax to stop evading the law or face prosecution.
A recent government investigation led to "strange" and "truly unexpected" findings that just 8 per cent of member-firms of the Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce paid taxes, he told the association's annual convention.
Six in 10 individual members paid no taxes at all, he added.
"I have to say I was shocked, to say the least, when I learned this, because that would mean that you are making even less than what I receive every month. Can this be correct?" Aquino said, according to an official transcript.
The president said 38 of the 207 member-firms - along with 14 of the 552 individual members - filed returns with zero tax due despite "unprecedented economic growth" in 2012, when output rose by 6.6 per cent.
The ethnic Chinese control large swathes of the Philippine economy and make up about half of the country's 40 richest individuals in the annual Forbes magazine list.